World no.1 squash player Nicol David, who was made a Laureus ambassador in January, is seen here giving a coaching clinic in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday. - RAYMOND OOI/ The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 Nicol David believes that being named a Laureus Academy ambassador will definitely help squash gain global recognition.
Seven-time world champion Nicol, who failed to add an eighth world title at the 29th Women’s World Championship in Penang last week, is only one of two squash players named by Laureus as their global sport ambassadors.
The other is 33-year-old men’s world No. 1 and reigning world champion Nick Matthew. Both Nicol and Matthew were recognised by the Laureus Academy in January.
Nicol is also the only Malaysian in the exclusive 150-member Laureus Ambassadors programme, and is one of just three Asians in the list. The others are badminton ace Lin Dan of China, and Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan.
The Penangite believes that being part of the Laureus Academy means squash is slowly but surely gaining more attention on the world stage.
“When I first heard the news, I was really surprised. It is quite a dream come true to be recognised by Laureus and be associated with them,” said Nicol.
“They have prestige and what they represent is truly global in terms of sport. It is an honour that Laureus recognises that I and squash have something to offer the ambassadors programme.
“I am also really proud and honoured to be the first Malaysian ambassador because they have a great programme and hopefully, we’ll see more growth in sports in Malaysia, especially squash.”
Meanwhile, despite suffering a painful loss in the semi-finals of the world meet to Egyptian sensation Nour El Sherbini last week, Nicol has managed to recover superbly as she conducted a combined coaching clinic for Laureus, the Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia and the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM).
“This is probably my last break before really getting serious. Last week was a real experience but unfortunately I didn’t do so well.
“But losses do happen, and I just have to understand what happened and go back to the drawing board with my coach Liz (Irving), because at the end of the day, it’s a never-ending learning process,” said Nicol, who will leave for Amsterdam, where she is based, next Monday.
She will next compete in the British Open from May 10-18.