Squash: El Welily ends David's 9-year reign as women's world No.1

Malaysia's Nicol David during the 2014 Asian Games in this Sept 23, 2014 file photo.
Malaysia's Nicol David during the 2014 Asian Games in this Sept 23, 2014 file photo. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Malaysia's Nicol David had her nine-year run as women's squash world number one finally halted on Tuesday by Egyptian Raneem El Welily.

The 26-year-old, who kicks off her season at the China Open on Thursday, becomes the first Egyptian woman to become a world number one in any sport, the Professional Squash Association said upon updating the rankings.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to have become the new World No.1," El Welily, PSA Women's Player of the Year in 2015, said.

"Nicol has been number one for so long and the gap between her and all of us has been so huge that to get close to her is an achievement in itself.

"To be the person to finally overtake her is huge for me."

She had been second in the rankings for eight months after winning a hat-trick of major titles, including her home Alexandria Open in June.

Her lead over David is just 125.625. With the Malaysian also competing in China on the opposite side of the draw, El Welily knows her reign could be short.

"I know I could just be there for one month and that's okay because I still need to do more in order for me to earn that spot - at the moment, it's only a matter of calculation," she added.

"I know that the challenge now is proving whether I'm worthy of staying there or not. If I want to do that, then it all rests on how I perform this season."

David has held the top spot since 2006, a run of 109 months.

The 32-year-old from Penang has won eight World Opens, six Asian Games gold medals, two more at the Commonwealth Games as well as claiming a host of other titles around the world.