KUALA LUMPUR: Nicol David is arguably the best woman squash player the world has ever seen.
She has, after all, ruled supreme since 2005 – when she won her first major title, the prestigious British Open.
So, what is the secret to her longevity and supremacy?
The six-time world champion revealed yesterday that it is all down to staying injury-free, being physically fit and mentally strong.
The Penangite is glad that she is one of the very few squash players who never suffered any injuries since turning pro in 2000.
“And touch wood I can continue to stay free of injuries and play my best in tournaments,” said Nicol, who will turn 29 on Aug 26.
“I am also in good shape physically because of the tough training I undergo.
“I am mentally strong thanks to the psychologist and support team that the National Sports Institute (NSI) provide for me during tournaments.”
But is that all there is to it?
According to Nicol, she also owes her rise in the game to moving to Amsterdam in 2003 to train under Liz Irving.
“I’ve made tremendous progress in my game training under Liz in Amsterdam,” said Nicol, who added her passion for the game and the support from her parents were just as instrumental in her ruling the squash world.
“I’ve sacrificed my time and moved out from my comfort zone by going to Amsterdam for the last nine years to achieve my dreams.
“I don’t think I would have been able to be what I am today without my parents’ support.”
And Nicol has a warning to her rivals that she is far from finished.
“I am not even at my peak yet despite winning my sixth world title in Rotterdam last November,” she said.
“I am still trying to improve all the small details in my game so that I can play even better.
“The younger squash players are always trying to get the better of me and I have to push myself in training to stay ahead of them.
“I intend to continue playing for the next five to seven years.
“My dream is to play in the Olympics. And if squash is included for the 2020 Games, I might even be playing until then (at the ripe old age of 37,” said Nicol, who spoke candidly with members of the press at a function to celebrate SportExcel’s 21st anniversary at the Royal Selangor Club in Bukit Kiara yesterday.
Nicol, who has won 59 professional titles to date, advised SportExcel athletes to work hard in training and be willing to make sacrifices if they want to be world-class athletes.
The world No. 1 is in town for the CIMB Nicol David KL Open championships which begin today.
The top-seeded Nicol will open her campaign against a qualifier in the first round at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.
Nicol is expected to face eighth seed Kasey Brown of Australia in the quarter-finals, which will be held at the Concourse of the Berjaya Times Square.
Judging by her determination, Nicol is odds-on favourite to win a record eighth KL Open title in 12 appearances.