PETALING JAYA: Nicol David has received a major boost in her squash career with a whopping RM1.3 million in sponsorship.
The sponsorship, from Mulpha-Head, is more than the one Ong Beng Hee received from Dunlop Slazenger. Beng Hee, who is now the world number nine, has a three-year contract worth RM1 million, which he signed last year.
Nicol, who will turn 20 next month, renewed her sponsorship with Mulpha-Head yesterday. She will receive from them cash, incentives, bonuses, retainers fees and equipment over two years.
The two-time world junior champion signed the contract with the director of Mulpha International Bhd, Denis Low. The signing was witnessed by the Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia's (SRAM) president, Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir, and Nicol's father Desmond.
Denis said that they were proud to be associated with Nicol.
“We have been with Nicol for many years and she deserves the sponsorship to help her achieve her dreams. She won the junior world title twice and we believe she has the potential to become the world champion,” he said.
Nicol, who is now ranked 37th in the world, said that she hoped to break into the top 20 by the end of the year.
“I have made steady progress in the first six months of the year after making a comeback in February. I hope to continue playing in more professional circuit tournaments to achieve my goal by the end of the year,” she said.
“My training in Amsterdam under former world number two Liz Irving of Australia has helped me improve my game. I hope to continue training under her.”
Nicol, whose highest world ranking was at number 16, took a four-month break after failing to defend her Asian Games title in Busan last October.
She added that with the full support of SRAM and Mulpha-Head, she hoped to be among the top contenders for the world title in three years' time.
“I definitely want to win the world championships after having won the junior title twice,” she said.
Mokhzani pointed to the fact that former world number one Sarah Fitz-Gerald of Australia won the world title six years after she lifted the junior crown in 1987.
“I believe Nicol can emulate Sarah's success,” said Mokhzani.
Nicol won the world junior title in Antwerp in 1999 and retained it two years later in her home state, Penang. She is the first player ever to win the title for two consecutive times.
Nicol's next assignment is the Malaysia Open, which will be played at the National Sports Council's (NSC) courts in Jalan Duta from Aug 18-22.
But she will have to earn her place in the main draw from the qualifying tournament. Current national number one Sharon Wee, who is ranked 20th in the world, may get an automatic berth in the tournament proper.