There is no doubt that Nicol David, the Malaysian squash phenom, is one of the best female squash players in the world — and certainly in Malaysian history. With a huge range of titles to her name, Nicol David has earned her place in squash history.
The Road to Dubai has been a fascinating one in the 2016/2017 squash season — with both the men and women squash players breaking records and impressing the world with some of the most incredible matches we have seen, David has impressed with her gameplay.
David has expressed her frustration on missing out on the Olympic Games, as well as squash’s recent progress in making serious steps to promote gender parity (Gruffudd Owen). While squash may not receive the same levels of global attention as tennis, it can absolutely match the excitement of tennis when it comes to the incredible physical feats the players and global stars are capable of.
With every Roger Federer of tennis, you have legends like Jahangir Khan, the “king of squash,” whose legendary 555-match winning streak lies as an example of incredible sporting prowess that is possible in the game of squash.
You also have the most legendary tennis players like Serena Williams, a talent that the world has not ever seen and may never again in the sport of tennis — an equivalent that is appropriate to Williams may just be Nicol David — squash phenom of Malaysia.
Nicol David has won just about every honor in the game of squash several times over. She also spent an incredible 108 consecutive months as women’s World No.1. She earned her standing as one of the greatest squash players ever — considering both men and women. This is a personal journey that began in her native Malaysia over 20 years ago.
When David was 11 years of age, she was offered the chance to use the facilities offered by “the national sports council and the Institute of Sports in Malaysia.” She had “access to nutritionists, sports psychologists and sports scientists throughout my career, who have taught me how to look after myself both physically and mentally.”
Referring to her coach, Liz Irving, David has been working with her coach for 14 years. The early support helped David’s rise to the top and she considers her decision to team up with Liz Irving (Australian squash coach and former player) as the definitive turning point in her professional career.
While she was born in Malaysia and plays for her country, David lives in Amsterdam, as does her coach, where she trains. There, she has a sports psychologist in Amsterdam and a sports therapist. She also has a sports psychologist in Malaysia.
In addition, Nicol David has a sports science team that is based in Malaysia — these employees come from England, Australia, and other locations around the world.
Thanks to the Road to Dubai standings, the game squash has been given a great visible platform in which to grow more popular among modern, potential players, thanks to Dubai.
Dubai is a city that has been globally recognizable as a center of sporting excellence. Squash has been giving a really good opportunity and visible platform to grow, thanks to the city and the UAE in general. Even since last year in 2016, Dubai has paved a way for growth of squash in the Middle East as well as the United States. They have showcased the sport well.
The Olympic Games
Don’t be fooled by David’s current No.6 standings in the world rankings — a quick look at her career will show you in incredibly long list of accomplishments. There is just one thing missing that David has always wanted — a win at the Olympic Games.
Squash’s continued absence from the Olympic Games has been denied to her and other squash players — her opportunity to showcase not just her skills, but the attraction of squash to the wider sporting world, has not yet been possible.
David has accepted that, at 33 years old and the Olympics not yet allowing the game into competition, there isn’t likely hope of competing at a future Games. This has been a source of frustration for her and other players. David is especially convinced that the sport is perfectly suited as being one of the largest sporting events and spectacles on the planet, and that it would be an incredible addition to the Olympic Games. “It’s disappointing when you know for a fact that our sport deserves to be there,” she has stated.
David has said what we already know — that squash players are as dedicated as any other Olympic athlete — the sport of squash is brutal, it ticks all of the boxes to be an Olympic sport, and the work that goes into it is extremely difficult.
If tennis is allowed to be an Olympic sport, then why can’t squash? David is positive despite knowing she is unlikely to play in an Olympic Games. “The Olympics will come: we just have to change our direction a little bit.”
There Has Still Been Great Progress Towards Gender Parity
There has still been cause for celebration in the world of squash in terms of gender parity in professional squash. The 2013 Delaware Investments US Open made a huge decision to reward both female and male players equal prize money for their event — this was a world first for the sport. The Allam British Open followed with the same this year, if you recall our article on the issue.
Now, in next month’s PSA World Series Finals at the Dubai Opera, the event will also split the purse equally. For Nicol David, it’s a belated appreciation of the crucial role that women play in the sport of squash as well as in sports entirely. Referring to equal purse money and increasing gender parity in squash, David has stated that it is “fantastic […] It’s such a huge boost for women’s squash.”
“You can count the number of sports that offer equal prize money on the palm of your hand, so we’re very fortunate that we’ve come this far.”
What is Nicol David Focusing on Next?
Her immediate focus is the PSA World Series Finals — she won the first two editions of the season-ending event in 2012 and in 2013, David lost at the semi-final stage during last year’s competition, when it was held at the iconic Burj Khalifa.
David has determined that regardless of how well she performs this time at Dubai — and with only the top eight players on the PSA World Tour eligible to compete — reclaiming her previous crown at Dubai will be a challenge nonetheless.
David has stated that she will take the time this year to explore the city that she could not during her time in the emirate last year. “I loved trying out different restaurants and cuisines because the city is so well-known for them. Hopefully I can do a bit more this time around,” she says.
David’s Plans After Retirement
While Nicol David has said she is nearing the end of her career (hopefully not for the next few years), the Malaysian has said that she doesn’t have any plans on quitting the sport. She wants to open her own academy in Malaysia as well as establishing a foundation that will encourage more girls to play sports, especially in the poorer areas of her home.
So, what does Nicol David want to be remembered for? “I want to be remembered as someone who contributed to the sport and who inspired people to play, or even just to be a better person,” she’s stated, “I just hope that I can encourage more people to do that in their own lives.”
Profile: Nicol David
- World Ranking: 6
- World Series Ranking: 6
- Date of Birth: Aug. 26th, 1983
- Height (cm): 162
- Weight (kg): 55
- Coach: Liz Irving
- Residence: Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Place of Birth: Penang, Malaysia
- Interests: Drawing, Art
- Shoe Sponsor: Asics
- Other Sponsors: CIMB Bank, Hotel Equatorial