KUALA LUMPUR: “You are getting more famous than me.” These words must have flabbergasted newly-crowned world squash queen Nicol David when the unexpected call came.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who has been at the forefront of the daily news since becoming Prime Minister in October 2003, could not help but tease the champion when he called her from the RMAF base yesterday.
Just minutes before he flew off to Saudi Arabia to attend the extraordinary summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Mecca, Abdullah took a little time to convey his admiration following Nicol’s victory in the World Open and her world Number One ranking.
“You are what I call cemerlang, gemilang and terbilang (excellent, of distinction and extraordinary).
“You are truly glorious,” Abdullah told the 22-year-old squash star, a daughter of former Penang athlete and state footballer Desmond David.
“Is your dad around?” he asked Nicol, who returned to her home state from Hong Kong after her win.
Abdullah told that her she was lucky to have parents – Desmond and Ann-Marie – who guided her in her quest to excel in her chosen sport. Nicol has two elder sisters, Lianne and Cheryll.
“Before, we had the Pak Sidek family (who nurtured his children into world-class badminton champions).
“Now, we have the Pak David family to make us proud,” said Abdullah, who was moved by the role they played in encouraging the young champion through her string of national and international accolades.
“You are very lucky to have supportive parents as your guiding light,” said the Prime Minister, who was also beaming with pride and admiration.
“We are all so proud of you. You make Malaysia proud and we are honoured to have you as a young talented rakyat.”
Abdullah said in recognition of Nicol’s feat, the Cabinet has agreed to give her a RM200,000 reward.
Before ending the call, Abdullah gave Nicol some wise words of advice.
“You still have a lot ahead of you. I hope you will not injure yourself in training. Do take care of yourself and your health.
He also advised her to take a good rest and wished her and her family a good holiday and Merry Christmas.
Besides the congratulatory call, the Prime Minister also wrote a personal note of appreciation to her, and another to her parents, in which he commended them for the sacrifices they had made to groom their daughter into a world champion.
Abdullah also sent a congratulatory message to the Malaysian contingent in the Manila SEA Games for bagging 61 gold, 49 silver and 65 bronze medals and another letter to the chef-de-mission Low Beng Choo.
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