Salah Hassan, a 33-year-old engineer from the Shooting Club in Cairo, defeated Walid Salah. 32, a professional singer from the Zamalek Club, to win the 1997 world championship in Cairo on Saturday, October 18, 1997. Hassan lost the first game but went on to win the next three in the best-of-five match (5/7,7/4,7/3,7/6).
To those who appreciate accurate and strong shooting, Walid was favored to win, but to those who enjoy tactics, Salah was their man. After losing the first game, Salah took the next two using a clever strategy. He was consistent in taking good positions and making the hoops - but on top of that, a supremely calm attitude won him the support of the spectators. Salah came to win. He had both the winning attitude and an excellent understanding of winning strategy.
The fourth and final game was the most exciting. Playing on hoop #5 with the score tied 2/2, Walid's red ball hit Salah's black ball sending it to corner 2. Walid was hoping to go up 3/2 with yellow which he perfectly placed in front of hoop 5. Salah shot black from corner 2 to hit yellow straight in the middle, knocking it to the south boundary in front of 3-back. Walid ran # 5 from this long and angled position to go up 3/2. Salah tied the score 3/3 and after some tactics and manouvers he made 1-back from the north boundary in front of the hoop without touching a wire (swish).
Then two hoops later came the controversy: Playing on 4-back, Walid was down 5/4 and with a ball blocking his path he nevertheless managed to score the hoop, but the referee disallowed the shot, ruling that Walid's ball had jumped over the obstructing ball. Walid was furious and actually considered leaving the game. Salah approached Walid and asked him not to leave the game and told him that he would come up with a satisfactory solution. Then he played his turn, shooting his ball to the half-way point between 4-back and Penultimate, indicating that he was giving the next hoop to Walid. The spectators applauded Salah's generous behaviour and quick respose. The game ended 7/6 in Salah's favour.
The closing cermony and the presentation of the prizes was enlivened by a spectacular laser show.
Asked for a comment on the American's performance, Chris Hudson, Secretary General of the World Croquet Federation said, "I was impressed. There's no doubt you're a tough squad." But Hudson was even more impressed with the unanimous vote of players from eight countries (excluding Egypt) in a Saturday morning meeting before the finals. They all voted in favor of the universal adoption of Egyptian Golf Croquet rules. "Some players even said they wouldn't play in a golf croquet tournament unless it was played by Egyptian rules," Hudson reported.
The goodbye dinner at the floating restaurant Nile Maxim by Marriot was fabulous. There must be some muscular relation between croquet and belly dancing, because all the croquet players were excellent in their impromptu belly dancing show at the dinner.
[CROQUET WORLD ONLINE MAGAZINE will continue to report on the phenomenon of Egyptian Golf Croquet and its growing impact on the sport.]
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