ISLAMABAD - Former world squash champion Geoff Hunt termed Pakistani players’ chances bright in the Serena Hotels-Chief of Air Staff (CAS) International Squash Championship.
In an interview with The Nation, Hunt said: “Pakistanis always pose tremendous amount of natural talent and very tough nuts to crack. I had played against a number of Pakistani greats, but I term Jahanghir Khan as the greatest of all just because of his unmatched records.”
“Qamar Zaman, Gogi Alluddin, Jansher Khan, Mohibullah Khan, Hidi Jehan, Yasin and others were very good and stylish players , and we had great rivalry on courts, but we used to respect each other off the court and that respect is still on after lapse of decades. I had won three world amateur squash championships and four time world champion between 1975, before losing the final against great Jahanghir Khan in 1981 and same year, I retired due to injuries. I had also won eight British Open championships. I worked with Australian Institute of Sports for 16 years as head coach and four years as consultant before joining Qatar Sports Academy and worked for seven years or so as head coach and still working with them as a consultant,” Hunt added.
He said: “We train around 12 students, and now I am working with wonder kid Abdulla Al Tamimi, who is with me for the last seven years. It will be a very difficult task for Tamimi's as he is the PSA ranked 675 and has to face much higher ranked players and Pakistani players are by no means easy to handle. It will be a good learning experience for the youngster and I hope he will perform well. It is not about winning or losing but it is about much-needed exposure, which he will certainly take benefit from participating in the event.”
Hunt rubbished security concerns and said: “Everywhere in the world, we have to face some kind of security issues. I traveled to Pakistan seven or eight times, and have very close friends here. I have been to Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar, and I feel home like environment here.”
Speaking about Pakistani players chances in the event, Hunt said: “Pakistanis are naturally God-gifted players and they have style, stamina, fitness and all the strokes in the book. I consider them favorites to win the title as majority of the players I have witnessed have what it takes to excel at this level. At one time, Pakistan, Australia and England were dominating world squash, but now Egypt is ruling the world. I would like to suggest Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) should work on long term plan, provide training program and international exposure, as without playing in the PSA events, the players can’t improve their international rankings and find it really difficult to beat top opponents.”
“It was always a pleasure to visit Pakistan and I was in Lahore in 2012, when Senior Masters events were held in Lahore. Jahanghir Khan always remains in touch with me, and he always speaks highly about Pakistan and due to his personal interest, I always find myself ready to travel to Pakistan,” he said.
When asked about inclusion of squash in Olympics, Hunt said: “Squash is a very delicate sports, and it should be included in Olympics. Past and present greats have been working for this cause and I am quite sure the day is not far when Olympics organisers will include the game in their agenda.”