Perseverance and avoiding comfort zone the key to Nicol staying at the top


The art of holding on: The experiences Nicol gained in the early years of her career toughened her up for the period when she held on to the top spot.

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Nicol David not only knows what it takes to reach the world’s No. 1 spot - but how to stay there for the longest time too.

It’s all about perseverance, says the eight-time world squash champion.

Nicol can certainly preach this as she has something which perhaps no one else in other sports has achieved before - to be ranked world number one for a record 108 consecutive months in women’s squash.

Nicol, who was voted as the World Games’ Greatest Athlete of All Time last week, said the experiences she gained in the early years of her career toughened her up for the period when she held on to the top spot.

“The moment I reached my dream (to be world No. 1), I was suddenly lost, ” said Nicol, who shared her experience in a webinar organised by the Squash Racquets Association Of Penang yesterday to celebrate her latest achievement, which was also attended by the Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

“I didn’t know what else to do.”

Nicol became the world No. 1 for the first time in January of 2006 but lost the top spot to England’s Vanessa Atkinson three months later. Nicol reclaimed the top spot later in August.

“I started losing matches to top players, ” she said.

“They were trying their best to beat me. Being the world No. 1 was not something given to me but I understood it was something I had to work hard for.

“That was when my coach (Liz Irving) started to build a more solid support system.

“I was also very motivated to improve myself and to make sure my rivals could not find any weaknesses to attack my game.

“I was not thinking of how long I can be No. 1 but how far I can go in training and stay competitive.”

Nicol also learnt not to be comfortable in any position.

“It made it easier for me to adapt as I’ve already learned a lot when I went through the transition from junior to the senior level, ” said Nicol.

“I changed my game from scratch and learned to persevere when I became the world No. 1, ” said Nicol, who also revealed that she plans to return to Penang from her second base in Bogota, Colombia, next month.

Nicol’s plan is to launch her own foundation in Penang, which has been two years in the making.

“The purpose is to motivate and empower the youth and women. I look forward to returning to Malaysia to register my foundation and move forward.”

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