Monday, October 2, 2023

Delia Arnold hangs up her racket to move on with life

Delia Arnold retires after 14 years on tour
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor

Former British Open semi-finalist Delia Arnold announced her immediate retirement from the game earlier last week. The world number 17 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, handed in her resignation letter to the Malaysian Director of Coaching, Major (r) S. Maniam on 4th January 2017 and will withdraw from the Tournament of Champions in New York later this month.

Delia Arnold first joined the PSA in 2003 and broke into the top 50 in February 2006 and in the same year, made her first tour final in Pakistan. The following year, Arnold nets her first tour title on home soil and would win another seven more through her career, the last also on home soil, at the Penang Open in 2014, beating Rachael Grinham in the final.

Delia Arnold spent half of her professional career hovering around the 20-30 ranking bracket from 2009 to 2015, before she shot to number 15 in June 2015 after a gallant run to the semi-finals at the British Open.

Delia Arnold en route to beating Alison Waters at the 2015 British Open

Delia retires from the PSA World Tour having played in 159 events and 324 matches, and won 174 of them.

“It’s been a long journey in the sport for me. I’ve been playing since I was very little and I’ve always had a target for myself to achieve what I want to achieve and now that I have, it’s time for me to think of my next chapter in life.”

The 30-year old lass from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has twice won the National Championships in 2015 and 2016, beating Low Wee Wern in the final on both occasions and was a finalist in 2011, losing out to Malaysian legend Nicol David.

Delia has represented Malaysia in the women’s World Team Championships since 2004 and was part of the team in 2014 that finished runner-up after they had taken out top seeds and defending champion Egypt in the semi-finals.

Her retirement is certainly a big blow to the Malaysian team, with Low Wee Wern currently on a long term injury break, leaving only Nicol David as the sole competitor on the World Series events. It may not have come at the best of times, but Delia remained positive in her recent social media post, “While some may say it’s a loss to the nation, I see this as an opportunity and challenge for the next generation to step up.”

Delia hails from a squash family, with her dad Raymond a multiple national champion himself and was the longest serving coach in the Malaysian team. Elder brother Timothy was a former touring professional himself and younger sister Rachel is the current world number 59. She is married to badminton’s former doubles world number 4 player Robert Lin Woon Fui, who has occasionally been spotted traveling with her to some events.

Delia and Robert on their wedding day
Delia Arnold and Robert Lin on their wedding day

Back home in Malaysia, she has a legion of fans not only for her squash, but also thanks to her stunning looks and is known to many as a friendly and easy going girl. In the last few years, she has also been known to many as #pinksocks thanks to the pink compression socks she has been donning in court.

While she has no plans yet for the future, she mentions that her initial plan is to, “enjoy life and catch up on many things that I missed out during my squash career.”

She also holds a Level 1 coaching certificate and has not ruled out a return to the sport in that capacity.

“I have no plans now even though the Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia has offered me that role. I will take some time to consider my other options before I decide on anything.”

When asked what she has been enjoying in the first few days of her retirement, Delia simply said, “I don’t have to set my alarm clock and I can wake up after the sun has risen. I’ve also gone to the airport without my squash bag and I do not need to make traveling plans around the tour calendar.”

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penang2014-d-alexHaving known Delia as a 7 year old and watched her progress through all the years, it’s been a joy and honour seeing her transition into the player she has become and what she has achieved in her career. I was lucky enough to have trained with her during the earlier years, and later working with her in some national level tournaments right till today, where she is my go-to girl for local culinary expertise. It is with a great deal of both euphoria and melancholy as I pen this tribute to a good friend. All the best D in whatever you decide to do next! Those pink socks will finally get some rest.

Pictures courtesy of Delia Arnold, Lucy Read and Glenn Guan

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