Reports by JOASH EE DE SILVA and N. TRISHA
PETALING JAYA: Even at the tender age of 10, Datuk Nicol David had the qualities of a great athlete in her.
Former national head coach Raymond Arnold said those in the local squash scene could see that she had the makings of a world player when she was just a primary schoolgirl.
“We could sense that there was something special in her as she had a determination to do what she wanted to achieve.
“At that age, we could not say for sure she would become a legend but without a doubt, she showed signs of greatness,” Arnold said.
During training, the young Nicol showed unparalleled enthusiasm and fire in her as she was eager to work harder than many others.
“I remember during a training camp for the squad, she was already giving her senior teammates a run for their money.
“The seniors would do 10 rounds of 400m sprints but little Nicol, then 11, was eager to meet their standards,” he added.
Arnold, who is currently the head coach for Federal Territories, said he still has vivid memories of her participation in the Under-17 event of the prestigious British Junior Open in Birmingham, England.
“I took her to the tournament but she suddenly fell ill.
“She was on medication and we kept her condition under wraps. But she still won. That was how determined Nicol was,” he recalled.
His daughter Delia Arnold was Nicol’s teammate.
Together with Low Wee Wern and Zulhijjah Azan, the quartet accomplished Malaysia’s best ever finish at the Women’s World Team Championships in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada in 2014.
“It was my best memory with her, that was our best-ever finish,” shared Delia who recalled how they painted their nails with colours matching the Jalur Gemilang at the world meet.
“We had a manicure session, painting each other’s nails to match our outfit and the colours of the Malaysian flag.
“We always think of doing something special while taking part in World Team Championships. It was actually her idea as she was the one who bought all the nail polish and remover,” she added.
Delia also remembers Nicol as a down to earth person.
“She is very humble, disciplined and hardworking. She has done so much for the country and is a good role model.”