KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Nicol David has been given the rare honour of leading out the Asian countries in the 20th edition of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, which begin on July 23.
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tan Sri Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar said that this is the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Games that a top athlete from Asia has been invited by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to be the flag-bearer for the eight Asian countries.
Besides Malaysia, the other Asian countries under the Commonwealth Federation are Singapore, Brunei, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
“Nicol has been selected because of her great achievements in squash. She is an icon in Asia.
“It is a great honour for Nicol and also for Malaysia that out of so many top sportsmen and sportswomen in Asia, she has been selected by the CGF,” said Tunku Imran.
Nicol, who will turn 31 on Aug 26, is the most successful woman squash player in the world. She is a seven-time world champion and has been ranked world No. 1 since August 2006.
The Penangite, who is leading the Malaysian women’s team in the Asian team championships, which began in Hong Kong on Wednesday, has won five prestigious British Open crowns and a total of 74 Women’s Squash Association (WSA) titles since turning pro in 1999.
She also won the gold medal at the last Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010.
Tunku Imran also revealed that shuttler Lee Chong Wei, who led Malaysia to a creditable runner-up finish behind Japan in the Thomas Cup final in New Delhi last month, will be the flag-bearer for Malaysia in the Commonwealth Games.
“A total of 180 athletes will feature in 15 sports (aquatics, athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, judo, lawn bowls, rugby, shooting, squash, table tennis, triathlon and weightlifting),” said Tunku Imran.
In New Delhi, Malaysia returned with 12 golds, 10 silvers and 13 bronzes.
“But for the Glasgow Games OCM are not setting any medal targets as we don’t want to put pressure on the athletes,” said Tunku Imran after launching a 100-day countdown to the Incheon Asian Games at Wisma OCM yesterday.
The Asiad is scheduled from Sept 19-Oct 4 and Malaysia will compete in 29 of the 34 sports.