Interview by RJ Mitchell
Squash legend Jansher Khan has had to undergo double back surgery for a chronic condition that has plagued him since his retirement from the World Tour in 2001.
The eight-time World Champion, who ruled as World No.1 for a decade between 1988 and 1998, had back spinal stenosis lower and upper operations at the Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad, in his native Pakistan earlier this week.
Speaking to the PSA website from his hospital bed, after the successful conclusion of the surgeries, the 14-times major winner revealed that his condition had grown agonisingly debilitating over the last year.
The 51 year-old also admitted that it was one of his great regrets that he had not paid more attention to back issues which sporadically blighted his career, something he says is a lesson for today’s pros as they look forward to resuming battle on the PSA World Tour.
“Firstly, I must thank the doctors and staff of the Shifa International Hospital who have made my operation such a success with their hard work and dedication,” said Khan.
“I’d also like to thank all those that sent their prayers and messages of good luck, it was deeply appreciated.
“For almost the last year I have been suffering severe back pain that began to affect my ability to get on a squash court and then latterly to walk and even pray and when this pain started to develop down my legs and became too much to endure I was forced to undergo the surgery.
“Now I have a smile on my face again and hopefully I will regain full mobility very quickly and can once more look forward to moving pain free and perhaps even hitting a squash ball sometime soon.”
But when it came to his message to those now following in his foot-steps and looking forward once again to treading the boards of the PSA World Tour’s courts, Jansher was keen to send a fatherly warning: “From a very young age I trained as hard as I could and completely dedicated my life to squash and of course there was a physical price to pay for this and I wish had paid more attention to my health and condition,” said Jansher, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011.
He continued: “It is a regret of mine that I thought only to chase my dreams and sacrificed everything to win our game’s greatest titles and did not pay more attention to my body and the niggles and pains I had to endure during my time at the top.
“In that there is a lesson for our young squash professionals in that you do yourself no favours in putting off dealing with minor issues than can grow into something more major down the road.
“I really hope the PSA players have used this period of the suspension to make sure that they have had all health issues taken care of, and when our game is back up and running I’d like to wish all the players on the tour good health and success for the resumption of our great game.”