KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Squash Queen Datuk Nicol Ann David today extended her gratitude to all Malaysians for their support which enabled her to be crowned the World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time Monday night.
The 37-year-old Penangite who remained at the top of PSA World Rankings for 109 consecutive months, received the coveted award, defeating 23 other athletes after garnering the highest votes via an online poll on the official World Games website https://www.theworldgames.org.
As the sole Asian candidate, Nicol proved to be in a class of her own since the first day of voting on Jan 8 when she received 318,943 votes, leaving her closest challenger James Kehoe, a tug of war athlete from Ireland with a 200,000-vote advantage.
Kehoe secured 113,120 votes to take second place, followed by powerlifting athlete from Ukraine, Larysa Soloviova, at third place with 80,790 votes.
“I’m so excited to get this World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time award and it really has been overwhelming to have such a tremendous support from Malaysians, the squash community, everybody, my families, my friends, cheering me on and voting for me every day,” she told Bernama via recorded video yesterday.
“I can’t thank you enough for this honour, this recognition. I really owed it to you for really see me through this win,” she added.
Meanwhile, Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director Major (Rtd) S. Maniam was quoted as saying in BernamaTV’s Mid-Day Update that Nicol deserved to receive the award based on her passion and dedication to the sports for the past few decades.
“She had been a dedicated and hard-working athlete and she had a huge team behind her, SRAM, that played the major role along with the National Sports Council, National Sports Institute and coaches. It was a team effort,” Maniam said.
“We (SRAM) noticed her talent from the young age of nine. She had no fear for anyone even for someone ranked much higher than her, she always went into the court believing that she can win.
“She had a very strong mental strength…and she is different from any other players in the world,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, in a statement, also thanked Malaysians for giving their undivided support to Nicol from the moment the poll was opened early this month.
He said it was not just an honour for Nicol, but also for Malaysia and the people as a whole.
“I’m so proud of the support shown by Malaysians and it is indeed the highest honour for her and for Malaysia. May this be an inspiration and a motivation to other national athletes to strive for excellence in every competition,” the minister said. – Bernama