Gohar the new champion as Elias makes it two
A new Girls' world junior champion was crowned in Eindhoven after Nouran Gohar beat Habiba Mohamed in a dramatic repeat of last year's all-Egyptian final – for a fifth successive Egyptian win, and nine out of the last ten – while Peru's Diego Elias joined the elite few who have won the world junior title twice as he beat Yousef Soliman in straight games.
Nouran the new champion
Last year in Namibia Habiba Mohamed was the underdog, but came from a seemingly losing position to beat Nouran Gohar to become world champion, and she started today as the top seed.
It was Gohar though, the second seed but higher-world-ranked player (15 v 19) , who started the better, taking a 4-0 lead in the opening game, then pulling away after Habiba had levelled to take the lead 11-6. She carried that momentum into the second, leading 4-1 and 6-3, but Habiba is a fighter, and her determined running and fierce hitting started to pay dividends as she pulled back, taking the last six points of the game -five of them errors from Gohar – to level the match 11-7.
In such a fiercely contested match, there was much for the referees to do, especially at the start of the third game where Habiba took a 4-2 lead, five of the points coming from strokes awarded. This time though it was Nouran's turn to fight back as she levelled at 5-all and moved on to retake the lead 11-7.
The fourth was an epic – 30 minutes of unrelenting effort and tension. Habiba led 4-1, Nouran levelled at 6-all. 7-all, 8-all, 9-all, game ball for Habiba on a no let, 10-all on a stroke. Into extra points, and no let up as each had opportunities, each denied by their opponent's determined play, the referee's decisions or, less often, their own errors. It was gripping stuff.
Habiba would have game balls at 12-11, 13-12 and 14-15. Nouran had match balls at 11-10, 14-13 and at 16-15. when she finally powered in a low drive that even Habiba had no chance of reaching. We had a new champion.
"I can't feel anything right now, I'm so happy," said a delighted winner. "In the second game she played very well and I lost concentration, but then I played well again in the third.
"The fourth was so tough, if I'd lost that I don't think I would have had anything left, I was so pleased to finish it in four, I really don't know what happened at the end!"
It's Diego the second
The Boys' final was more straightforward, but despite top seed and defending champion Diego Elias maintaining his run of straight-game victories it was anything but easy as Yousef Soliman made him work for his second title.
The Peruvian started well certainly, taking 8-2 and 10-4 leads in the first, finishing it off 11-6.
Two strokes and two unforced errors gave Yousef a 4-0 lead in the second, and the Egyptian was definitely into the match no as the rallies lengthened and the retrieving stepped up a level. Diego levelled at 4-all but Yousef had the bit between his teeth, continued pressing and more than held his own as the score reached 8-all.
Ramy Ashour, Mohamed and Marwan Elshorbagy, and now Diego Elias, double World Junior Champion.
"This has been an important month for me, with the Pan American Games where I played well to reach – and almost win – the final, and now this, "It's an honour to join the list of people who have won this title twice and I hope I can continue to progress as they have."
Note: Diego brought the trophy back today,very apologetic that he couldn't get his win from last year engraved because the plates were full. So what he did was the get new plates made, including the previous winners plus himself ! No apologies needed Diego !!
The Girls' team event, with 18 nations competing for the title, starts tomorrow with Pool matches at 11.00, 14.30 and 18.00.
Photos from the Plate Finals and finals day activities