KUALA LUMPUR: Nicol David is back to compete in the National Squash Championships after a three-year absence.
The eight-time world champion has not competed in the national meet since 2013.
The Penangite, who won the national title three times – 2010, 2011 and 2013 – withdrew from the 2014 edition with a back injury and skipped the last two years due to other commitments.
But the world No. 6, who has one title to her name this year – the Ciudad de Floridablanca Open in Colombia – will compete in this year’s national meet at the NSC Squash Centre at Jalan Duta from May 21-26.
Nicol is not expected to face much resistance as defending champion Delia Arnold retired in January.
It will be down to national No. 3 Rachel Arnold and 18-year-olds S. Sivasangari and Andrea Lee to challenge Nicol.
“Except for (Low) Wee Wern, who is still recovering from injury, all our top players are set to compete at the nationals,” said Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) president Huang Ying How.
“Although there isn’t much chance of an upset, it’s still a good opportunity for the younger players to take on Nicol in a competitive environment.
“I know the younger girls like Sivasangari and Andrea will definitely go all out against Nicol. She’s not going to have it easy.”
In the men’s event, national No. 1 Mohd Nafiizwan can expect a stiff challenge from national No. 2 Ivan Yuen as well as youngsters Ng Eain Yow and Mohd Syafiq Kamal as he bids for a third national crown.
Meanwhile, SRAM received a huge boost when data service provider Ohana extended its sponsorship for the national meet for another year.
The total prize money for the national meet is RM25,000, with the men and women’s champions pocketing RM4,000 each.