Landmark achievements are not new for Nicol David, the super sensational squash player from Malaysia. Few sportspersons in the world have risen to the level of excellence as this suave lady from Penang has. At Hong Kong just the other day she recorded her tenth title in a row in the prestigious tournament stopping none other than the in-form Laura Massaro from England, who had just taken the top-rank spot beating Egyptian Raneem El Welily in the previous round. What is more the title-win was Nicol’s first world tour success since February, a delay that was not characteristic of this great champion.
But does that add excitement to this down-to-earth champion from Malaysia? Hardly for she is the type who takes success and failure with the same feeling. It must have hurt when she lost her prime position as world number one after holding it for 111 months, something none earlier had come near of achieving but that did not matter. It did not tell on her game for this talented lady knows nothing is permanent in life.
Currently ranked three in the world, Nicol proved with her win in Hong Kong that even a whisper of her losing ground would be misplaced. There is so much more left in her in terms of squash. As she once told this writer during the 2008 Asian championship in Kuwait where Malaysia under her ruled supreme, “for me each match is a learning exercise. When I walk on the court I do not consider myself the best or world number one. But concentrate to do well.” The humility of the great player needed no further elaboration. Always affable and quite a few Indian players have vouched for this, Nicol is ready to provide tips to anyone seeking her help. “She is very friendly,” is the common refrain one heard. It is never easy to keep that mental balance. Perhaps that explains why she inarguably is one of the greatest squash players of all time.
A look at her awards and achievements can be mind boggling. One is tempted to find if there was anything at all she had not achieved in Asia or the world. Multiple wins of Asian and world titles stand out as gems in her showcase of her glittering career. And yet the best is still to come for this 32-year-old. Olympics is her big dream like all squash-playing sportspersons. Not surprisingly she was in the front in the strong campaign of the World Squash Federation for an Olympic berth. She was prepared to surrender everything she had achieved for that one elusive Olympic medal, she had proclaimed, the emotional touch was unmistakable. Will that dream come true, only time will tell. But as of now that could be one achievement that could remain an impossibility.
However what will be not beyond her is capturing the number one spot once again. Remember she had beaten the potential number one in Hong Kong and that with ease in straight games. As they say, class is permanent but not form. Nicol David’s class and her ability to make things short and simple when in mood, makes her the most dangerous opponent in any tournament. There is little to suggest that she has dimmed in enthusiasm or the urge to excel. That alone makes one believe that this Malaysian is only biding time before making it certain to the world of where she stands in the history of world squash.