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Egyptian squash legend dies

July 31, 2003

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CAIRO, July 30: Egypt’s former world top ten squash player Ahmed Safwat has died of a heart attack aged 56 it was announced on Wednesday.

Safwat had been on the point of returning to his home in England when he was taken ill and suffered a second heart attack in hospital.

Safwat was noted for the grace and artistry which set him apart from most of his contemporaries when he was at his peak in the 70’s and was a regular feature in the top 10 in the world.

In recent years, he coached Egyptian junior girl and women’s teams.

Two months ago he went back to his roots as coach at the Heliopolis Club in Cairo, planning to split time between Egypt and England.

He had a successful seniors career winning the World Masters Over 40 title; was twice the Over 50 champion; and was top seed for the World Over 55 title in Finland next week.

He received fulsome tributes from former opponents and leading officials. England’s Jonah Barrington, who beat Safwat in the quarterfinals of the 1973 British Open en-route to winning the title for a sixth time, remembered his opponent fondly.

World Squash Federation (WSF) President Jahangir Khan also expressed his sadness.

“Ahmed’s passing diminishes us all. Squash will not be the same without him,” said the ten-times British Open champion from Pakistan.—AFP