Did Khan re­ally pull off his iconic feat?

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

PAK­ISTAN squash leg­end Ja­hangir Khan is famed for win­ning 555 matches in a row, but a new book has cast doubt on the fig­ure and says it might be much lower.

In Ja­hangir Khan 555, au­thors Rod Gil­mour and Alan Thatcher say no­body was keep­ing proper records dur­ing Khan’s five-and-a-half-year un­beaten run from 1981 to 1986.

Khan’s streak of 555 is cred­ited as the long­est un­beaten run in any sport, but the au­thors say their re­search has con­vinced them the fig­ure is “fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect”.

“There were no statis­ti­cians at the time chron­i­cling his matches and not once has the fig­ure been high­lighted in press re­ports of the time,” Gil­mour said in a press re­lease.

“We be­lieve that it could be sig­nif­i­cantly lower. Af­ter all, he would have to have played over 20 world tour tournaments each year for five years, which at the time was cer­tainly not the case in tour matches.”

How­ever, Khan in­sisted the fig­ure could be even higher than 555, as it doesn’t take into ac­count ex­hi­bi­tion matches.

His win­ning streak from 1981 was fi­nally brought to a halt by New Zealand’s Ross Nor­man at the 1986 world cham­pi­onships in Toulouse.

“If you cal­cu­late it, it could be more. I played in­vi­ta­tional, ex­hi­bi­tion and chal­lenge matches,” he was quoted as say­ing.

“The 555 fig­ure should only be my tour­na­ment matches. But it could be be­tween six to seven hun­dred matches if you in­clude the others. Be­cause I wasn’t los­ing those ei­ther!”

Thatcher said if Khan didn’t win 555 in a row, the long­est win­ning streak would go to Dutch wheel­chair ten­nis leg­end Es­ther Vergeer, who won 470 con­sec­u­tive matches over 10 years un­til her re­tire­ment in 2013.

“His five-and-a-half-year un­beaten run is cer­tainly not dis­puted. That will surely never be con­quered,” Thatcher said.

“It’s the fi­nal tally which we wanted to solve for ac­cu­racy’s sake. The real fig­ure? It’s hard to say. But it could be lower than 500.” –

Photo: AFP

Pak­istani squash leg­end Ja­hangir Khan holds the Beijing Olympic torch in the Li­aquat Gym­na­sium at the sports com­plex in Is­lam­abad in April 2008.

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