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Squash queen Nicol to retire in June

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It’s the end of an era for Nicol, who will be hanging up her squash racket in June. Bernama File Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: After rocking the glass-court for more than two decades, national squash queen Datuk Nicol David decides to retire from the sport when the current 2018/19 Professional Squash Association (PSA) season ends in June.

The 35-year-old Penangite, who helmed the world ranking for record of nine years, said she had the thought for quite some time and knew earlier that this would be her last playing season.

“My mind and body have battled it out to stay at the very top of my game for such a long time that I feel that I only have this last big push left for the final season to give it all I have before I enter the next phase of my life.

“Competing on tour and being in these amazing venues all around the world is the first thing I will miss. However, I am going to make the most of it over these next few months the best I can.

“After having time to reflect, I can honestly say that staying at number one for nine years in a row is what stands out for me most. I never fully understood it until I was not there anymore. I am very proud of this achievement,” she said in a statement posted in the PSA’s website, www.psaworldtour.com.

The eight-time World Champion, who started to play squash at the age of five, had claimed three World Games gold medal, five Asian Games gold, two Commonwealth Games gold and two British Open titles throughout her 20 years of representing Malaysia.

Nicol who turned pro in 2000, was the youngest world junior champion when she won the 1999 World Junior Squash Championships in Antwerp, Belgium at the age of 15.

Despite retiring as an athlete, Nicol pledged to contribute back to squash in three ways.

“I love squash with all my heart, and it will always play an important role in my life, which is why I would like to give back in three ways. By working closely with the PSA to raise the awareness of our sport globally and to build a support team for our professional squash athletes as they continue to raise the bar on tour.

“By helping the younger Malaysian generation through the Nicol David Foundation, which seeks to empower girls through sport to reach their full potential. And to the people of Malaysia, I will be sharing my story, ‘Nurturing Belief’, through a series of talks and writings,” she said.

Nicol also thanked the Youth and Sports Ministry, National Sports Council, National Sports Institute, Penang Sports Council as well as Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM), Squash Racquets Association of Penang (SRAP) and the Penang Squash Academy for the support throughout her playing career.

“And, of course, my technical and support team with the incredible (coach) Liz Irving working with me for 16 wonderful years together – what a great journey it has been.

“Thank you to all my fans, my supporters and my followers for joining me on my journey throughout all these years. I would like to enjoy my last few tournaments together with everyone throughout this campaign, and I would like to encourage all of you to keep on rooting for me. The dream remains,” she added.

Meanwhile, PSA chief executive officer Alex Gough said Nicol is undoubtedly one of the greatest squash players of all time and her presence on the tour will be sorely missed.

“She has inspired a generation of Malaysian players and will go down in history as one of the most iconic figures ever to pick up a squash racket. Nicol has always displayed an exemplary level of professionalism both on and off the court and everyone at the PSA wishes her nothing but the best for the future,” he said.

Nicol would challenge for her ninth and final World Championship in Chicago from Feb 23 till March 2. – Bernama