She used to run away from school as a teenager to swing mallets to thread balls through hoops in Cairo but 14 years later Soha Mostafa has run away with the Women's Golf Croquet World Championship in Hastings today.
Mostafa lived up to her favouritism when she comfortably overwhelmed Manal Khoudeir 7-1, 5-7, 7-3, 7-4 in the all-Egyptian final at the tournament headquarters, the Heretaunga Croquet Club in Havelock North.
"I still can't believe it," said the 29-year-old human resources supervisor, as she posed for photos with the trophy and an Egyptian flag on the pristine lawns on a sunbathed day with Khoudeir, opponents and other well wishers.
Asked what the difference was between the two finalists, Mostafa replied: "I'm a fighter. I'll fight until I win."
It didn't bother her that Khoudeir had levelled in the second game of the five-set knockout match that secured her maiden women's world crown.
"I was a little nervous but I'm a good player and this was my day," she said, revealing after her semifinal win over Jenny Clarke, of Christchurch, that it was always going to be God's will although trainer Khaled Younes' input also was crucial.
"The pressure was always a personal one because Egypt was going to win regardless so things went my way today."
Mostafa, who couldn't wait to scramble on to the team mini-van for their motel at Stortford Lodge in anticipation of the celebratory dinner today, said she had shortly after phoned her parents, Susan and Mostafa Abdel Halim.
"They were both crying," she said, revealing a contingent of family members, relatives, club members and friends will greet her at Cairo airport before a party will be held to acknowledge not just her achievement but the team.
Khoudeir put on a brave smile but found some comfort in that she was the world No 2 in the female domain, her career-best finish.
"I don't deserve to win. I just wasn't good enough," said the 48-year-old IT manager from south of Cairo.
She felt the difference was Mostafa's age, endurance and the ability to soothe her jangled nerves quicker than she could. Khoudeir also had some difficulties adjusting to the different type of hoops and balls used here.
"I beat her more than once in Egypt but it wasn't to be today."
It didn't help that Khoudeir was vomiting the night before because of a post-surgery allergy.
"I have had nothing to eat since yesterday and I was feeling really tired out there because of a lack of sleep."
"Egypt was going to win either way so I didn't have to fight that hard," she said, adding there was always another chance in four years although the venue has yet to be named.
She echoed Mostafa's sentiments in emphasising Croquet Hawke's Bay had done a stellar job in hosting the championship.
"I love the sport, the cities and the people of Hawke's Bay," Khoudeir said.
Clarke, the 46-year-old sports science lecturer from Canterbury University who had predicted her assailant would become world champion, had to settle for fourth place after losing 7-5, 7-4 in the best of three playoff to 54-year-old EgyptAir flight attendant Iman El Faransawi.