The girl who makes all Egyptians proud
Tell us about yourself, what you do and how you started
My name is Raneem el Welily, 29 years old, I am a professional squash player, I play for Wadi Degla and I’m currently ranked 1st in the PSA World rankings. I started playing squash when I was 6. I had a good junior career, winning 2 world junior titles, 6 British junior open titles and many national titles.
I then joined the Professional Squash Association in 2002. I currently hold 19 titles. The biggest title was the Heliopolis Open, which secured me a place amongst the top 20 players in the rankings. I joined Wadi Degla clubs in 2013 and ever since I have received the support of the squash team, with all its training staff. Amongst the great moments of my career was back in September 2015, when I became the first Egyptian and Arab woman to top the world ranking in any sport, overtaking Nicol David who had dominated that spot for 9 years before that. My 2nd proudest moment would be winning the World Open title and becoming the world champion in Manchester, December 2017.
My latest season starting 2017, was my best season with the most titles of my career including El Gouna Open, World Open, US Squash Open, and China Open, the titles which made me regain the number 1 spot in the rankings.
What was the hardest part of your journey so far?
Every step along the way has its difficulties, I had to adapt and improve myself to overcome them. But it’s all part of the process. Eventually these difficulties help me reach my dream and I think that regaining my title has been a highlight of this long way, but still the road is longer.
How have you overcome it?
As I said before I evolved my skills, studied my competitors and worked hard to give it what it takes for me to get back in the game.
What motivates and drives you?
Winning! It is a great joy in the life of any athlete. It is a feeling that lifts you up and encourages you to keep going.
Would you consider yourself a risk taker?
Risks are part of anyone’s life, especially athletes. Yes, squash is an individual sport, but I’m lucky enough to be surrounded with talented coaches, a positive family and motivating friends. They help me make the right choice when it comes to risks. Besides there’s no fun without a little risk.
Do you think your mindset has been a key to your success?
As I said before, squash is a tough individual game that requires independence, self-discipline and dedication. Ever since I started my path in squash, I have become a more decisive person and I changed my lifestyle to be more focused and more stable against distractions away from my education and my sports career. Success is not easy, but it is attainable if we are flexible and willing to change towards a more positive attitude to reach our goals.
What would you say are the key elements to starting a successful sports career/path?
I think that starting a successful sports career requires dedication and certain traits the player should have, apart from that the entity the player works at is an essential element in supporting any player’s successful career. For example, I joined Wadi Degla in 2013 ever since, I have found myself not only part of a sports entity, but a family that supports and celebrates my achievements. What is even better is that this family is supportive when you suffer a downfall. This is what makes Wadi Degla a great club and a great element in the journey towards my success, which was magnified this year with more titles.
What/who inspires you?
I am a modest person, and such modesty makes me look for inspiration in unordinary corners of life. You would expect me to have a role model or a figure in sports, but I look for those who are most influential to my life such as family members. and colleagues who teach me how to be a better person every day.
How do you deal with a bad day?
I learn something every day and the bad days teach me way more than the good ones.
What do you do when you’re not training?
I am a family person and I love staying at home with myfamily and loved ones. So, when I am not training, I always spend a chill day at home with family and friends.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who’s starting out in the field, what would it be?
I would say that staying patient and positive will eventually help you reach your goals. There were times I felt like giving up, but losing and fighting back to be better again has made me the person I am today. So, hang in there, no one said the road is easy.
What’s your next big step?
I am currently preparing for the 2nd half of the season starting the beginning of 2019, as we are currently on a mini break. My ultimate goal is winning more titles. JPMorgan Tournament of Championship in New York will be my first stop and I hope I’m able to deliver the best performance.