Pakistan has a rich legacy of producing world-class squash players, but the glory days of Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan seemed to be long gone. That is, until Hamza Khan emerged as the new hope for the nation.
Hamza Khan, a 17-year-old from Peshawar, stunned the squash world by winning the World Junior Squash Championship 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. He defeated Egypt’s Mohamed Zakaria 3-1 in the final, becoming the first Pakistani champion since Jansher Khan in 1986.
Hamza Khan made history in Melbourne
Hamza Khan’s journey to the top
Hamza Khan comes from a family of squash players. His uncle is Shahid Zaman, a former world number 14, and his distant relative is Qamar Zaman, a legend of the game. Qamar Zaman’s wife was Hamza Khan’s aunt.
Hamza Khan started playing squash at the age of six, under the guidance of his father Niazullah, who was also a former player. He used to practice at the Hashim Khan Squash Complex in Peshawar, where he showed his talent and potential.
He qualified for the PAF Academy Peshawar under-11 trials, where he beat all seven boys, including the then Pakistan under-11 champion. He then moved to Islamabad, where he trained at the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) academy.
He won several national and international titles in his age group, including the Chief of Air Staff under-11 in 2016 and the British Junior Open under-15 in 2020. He also represented Pakistan in various team events, such as the Asian Junior Team Championship and the World Junior Team Championship.
How He made history in Melbourne
Hamza Khan faced a tough challenge in Melbourne, where he had to overcome some of the best junior players in the world. He reached the quarter-finals by beating Malaysia’s Darren Rahul Pragasam 3-1.
In the quarter-finals, he faced France’s Melvil Scianimanico, who was ranked higher than him. The match lasted for 81 minutes, and Hamza Khan had to deal with some controversial decisions by the referee. However, he showed his resilience and determination, and won 3-2.
In the semi-finals, he met Egypt’s Mohamed Zakaria, who was also a formidable opponent. Hamza Khan played with confidence and aggression, and dominated the match from the start. He won 3-1, securing his place in the final.
The final was a historic moment for Hamza Khan and Pakistan. He faced another Egyptian, Mohamed Elshamy, who was also a strong contender. Hamza Khan did not let the pressure get to him, and played with flair and skill. He won 3-1, clinching the title that had eluded Pakistan for 37 years.
Hamza Khan’s reaction and future goals
Hamza Khan was ecstatic after his victory, and thanked his coach, his managers and his parents for their support. He also dedicated his win to Pakistan and its people.
He said that his ultimate goal was to win the British Open and the World Open titles for Pakistan, and to revive its dominance in squash. He said that he was inspired by Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan, who were his role models.
Hamza Khan’s achievement was celebrated by many people on social media, who congratulated him and praised him for making Pakistan proud. He also received appreciation from Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who thanked him for bringing back the title to Pakistan after 37 years.
He also received a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh from Peshawar Zalmi owner Javed Afridi, who announced it on Twitter. Other prominent personalities who congratulated Hamza Khan included former PITB chairman Dr Umar Saif, Karachi mayor Murtaza Wahab and PML-N senior leader Muhammad Zubair.