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Monday, May 17, 2021

Nicol David: My best is still to come

Alex Wan
Alex Wan is an avid squash lover who writes, photographs, plays and coaches when he is not making a living with his Finance degree.

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Nicol David gives a lesson to Red Bull grand prix drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat
Nicol David gives a lesson to Red Bull grand prix drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat

My best squash is still ahead of me says record-breaking Nicol David

By ALEX WAN, Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor

Nicol David has told fans back home in Malaysia that she is keen to carry on playing for at least another five years and has ominously warned her rivals that “the best is yet to come”.

The record-breaking world number one, honoured in her home country by the title of Datuk, revealed that attempting to maintain her position of domination in the world rankings is “too hard to resist”.

She said: “I am at the peak of my career right now and to be honest there is still a lot of things to do and I am looking forward to hopefully playing for another five years.

“The game has so much to offer, I’ll just keep playing… if I can stay in the glass court as long as I can, I will do it,” she told a press conference after her appointment as Malaysia Youth Ambassador for Squash.

Nicol, 32, said she was very honoured to be appointed as the ambassador of the higher education squash programme.

“It is great to be involved and be part of this great programme. I look forward to giving my time and expertise to those university students,” she told.

Her appointment as ambassador is a boost for the programme and resonates with her hope that there would be more support for local universities to participate in the game.

“Through playing my favourite sport, Malaysian youth will learn to inculcate hard work, determination, resilience, fair play, teamwork, and leadership values that serve as building blocks to boost confidence to succeed in life,” she said.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said: “Choosing Datuk Nicol David as the ambassador of this programme will only add toward creating a learning ecosystem that reinforces knowledge, skills and value of this sport that can be inculcated in our students.”

The world No. 1 has had a busy schedule of engagements back home in Malaysia, first of all getting on court (below) for a photo-shoot and a fun game with Red Bull racing drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat ahead of the recent Malaysian Grand Prix.

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She then paid tribute to her Australian coach Liz Irving at the CIMB Group’s client appreciation event in Kuala Lumpur to celebrate her achievement as the longest-reigning world No.1.

In February, Nicol cemented herself as the longest-reigning world No.1, surpassing New Zealander Susan Devoy’s record of 105 months between 1984-1993.

This month, Nicol is in her 108th month as the supreme player in the world. She said: “Liz basically transformed my whole squash game to a whole different level to the consistency that I have right now. I wouldn’t be where I am without her.

“When I moved to Amsterdam 12 years ago, we had to start from zero. I had to build my technique and a strong base that I could build on in the future,” said Nicol.

“Liz also understands my needs. She finds all the right people to come and work with me as a team.

Nicol David receives an award to celebrate her record-breaking run as world No.1
World champion Nicol David receives an award from CIMB to salute her record-breaking run as world No.1

“I’ve even gone to Melbourne a few times to work with Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Vicki Cardwell (former world No. 1 and world champions of Australia) because she has faith that they can give me that extra input in my game.

“She’s not possessive over her players. She’s open to feedback from other coaches and that’s very rare in coaches.

“I’m really pleased that she still wants to stay with me for the last 12 years,” she laughed.

Under Irving, Nicol has ticked off every record possible in her sport.

Nicol becomes a Malaysian Ambassador for Sport
Nicol is joined by fans at the CIMB day

To date, she has won 79 titles, including eight world and five British Open crowns. On top of that, she has two Commonwealth Games golds, six Asian Games golds as well as being a three-time World Games gold medallist.

Despite spending 15 years on Tour, Nicol is still hungry for more success. She said: “I am determined. In anything I do, I’m determined to do it well, and to win.”

And if anything, Nicol believes her best is yet to come, which surely is not comforting to her rivals.

Next up for Nicol will be to defend her British Open title from May 11-17.

Before that, she will take part in the Asian Individual Championships in Kuwait from May 1-5.

“I’m probably at my peak years. And I’m very excited to see how that goes. I know it’s strange to hear that.

“But I think my best squash is still ahead of me.

“I think there is a glimpse of it here and there. I am so excited. I need to build the consistency and mental aspect and make it come as one all the time.

“So, there is definitely a lot more to come,” said Nicol.

Liz Irving and Nicol David
Liz Irving and Nicol David

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