GEORGE TOWN: Five-and-a-half-day-week, six hours a day of training and a punishing schedule as a professional player that lasted for almost 20 years.
These were among the sacrifices Datuk Nicol Ann David, who just claimed the World Games’ Greatest Athlete of All Time (GOAT) honour, had to make before the curtain came down on her illustrious career in 2019.
Her 74-year-old father, Desmond David, said they were always in constant touch with Nicol via social media and phone calls since she turned professional back in the 1990s.
“Even after her retirement, Nicol is still committed to the sport as she has been travelling around the world to conduct talks or coaching clinics on squash.
“She missed the Christmas celebration with us last year, having been stranded in Colombia since last March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ” he said.
Nicol, an eight-time world champion, claimed the World Games GOAT honour with 318,943 votes in the final round of 10 athletes after the worldwide poll closed on Monday.
The 37-year-old Penangite, the only Asian athlete shortlisted for the award, garnered more than 200,000 votes advantage over
second placed competitor James Kehoe of Ireland.
The tug-of-war athlete notched 113,120 votes while Ukraine’s power-lifter Larysa Soloviova came in third with 80,789 votes.
Nicol also led the field when the second and final phase of voting started on Jan 21 where only the top 10 candidates – who kept all of their votes garnered thus far – remained.
Altogether, 23 past and present athletes representing various sports from all editions of the World Games’ 40-year history were selected for the worldwide poll.
Desmond said the family was proud of Nicol’s achievement after being told of the results.
“Nicol informed us about the matter via WhatsApp message.
“Through the message, I can sense that she was very happy about it, ” he said.
Asked if the current crop of athletes in this country could match Nicol’s achievement, Desmond said it would be unfair to compare the success of athletes from different eras and sports.
He said athletes must work hard to keep themselves at the top of their game and avoid being one-time wonders in sports.
“Having talent is one thing, but working hard is paramount in anything you do.
“There is no shortcut to success, as no one will achieve anything without working hard, ” he said.
Nicol hung up her racquet after her illustrious career in 2019, winning eight world titles between 2005 and 2014.
She spent an unprecedented nine years at the pinnacle of the women’s squash world rankings between 2006 and 2015, as well as winning 81 professional titles.