Continuing the success that Egyptian croquet players have seen in international competitions, Egyptian croquet player Ahmed El-Mahdi won this year’s men’s individual competition at the Golf Croquet World Championship, which took place in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
El-Mahdi faced his compatriot, Hami Erian, in the final. Third and fourth places were acquired by the English players Chris Clarke and Stephen Mulliner, respectively.
For El-Mahdi, this victory represents the culmination of several years of dedication.
“I started playing about 18 years ago. I became addicted and I almost go to the club every day, at a minimum four or five days, to play croquet”, he said in comments to Daily News Egypt.
The international individual competition was formalised in 1996 and 11 subsequent competitions have been held. Of these 11, an Egyptian player has taken first place in nine of the competitions.
Egyptian women have also figured prominently in the sport’s sphere since it went international in 2005, as they have accumulated five rankings within the sport’s top two positions. Egyptian players placed first in 2005 when the competition was held in Cairo, Egypt and again in 2007 when the competition was held in Dublin, Ireland.
Egypt’s Iman El-Faransawi has been a mainstay in international competition. In the 2005 championship, she placed second when she faced the eventual winner, fellow Egyptian player Nahed Hassan, in the final. In the 2007 competition, El-Faransawi returned to the championship round where she defeated Egypt’s Marwa Moustafa. El-Faransawi made another appearance in the 2009’s championship where she placed second after being defeated by New Zealand’s Alix Verge.
In 2015, as an indication of Egypt’s continued influence on the international sport, Egyptian Croquet Federation President and current World Croquet Federation (WCF) President Amir Ramsis Naguib was re-elected the WCF’s president for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2016. Naguib received 38 votes for re-election against the 19 votes received by his primary competitor, Ian Burridge, who was nominated by the Welsh Croquet Association.In the first team competition for the World Croquet Championship, held in 2013, with the participation of eight countries, Egypt’s team – composed of El-Mahdi, Ahmed Nasr, Mohamed Nasr and Anwar Abdel-Aziz – won first place where they faced the New Zealand team in the final.
In Egypt, the number of croquet players registered in the Egyptian Croquet Federation is around 2000 players. Egypt’s primary competitors include New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. The strongest croquet club in the Egyptian domestic league is the Shooting Club.
“When we talk about the Shooting Club in croquet, it is as if we talk about Al-Ahly in football”, said Khalid Younis, the coach and technical director of the Shooting Club and the Egyptian national team.
Egypt is the one of two participating Arab countries in international competition, in addition to Palestine’s representation by Rana Al-Alamy. Al-Alamy started at Al-Shams Club in Egypt. Now she is living in France and plays in the championships for Palestine.
As for the African countries, South Africa is the only other African country participating in the championships. Out of the 11 men’s individual competitions held since 1996, South Africa won one when Reg Bamford finished first in the 2013 competition. South Africa’s Judith Hanekom won the 2014’s women’s individual championship.