Malaysian squash star Nicol David reached a new milestone in her illustrious career when she was inducted into the World Squash Federation Hall of Fame – becoming the first active player in the history of the sport to be so honoured.
The induction was conducted by fellow countryman HRH Tunku Imran at a gala dinner in Rotterdam as part of theWorld Squash Awards programme at the 2011 World Open Championships. Imran, the WSF Patron and an IOC member, is himself a former Malaysian national squash champion.
Less than 24 hours later, David made further history by winning a record sixth Women’s World Open crown, crushing England’s world No2 Jenny Duncalf in one of the fasted world championship finals on record.
“It is great to be recognised while I am still competing – and to have my achievements compared with the top players in history,” said the 28-year-old from Penang. “It is truly fantastic and I am really honoured.”
After becoming the first ever double winner of the biennial world junior title in 2001, Nicol David went on begin an unbroken reign at the top of the world rankings in August 2006 – in March this year becoming the second longest-standing world number one of all-time.
Her Rotterdam triumph brought her WISPA World Tour title tally to 56 – just six short of the current record held by Sarah Fitz-Gerald, the legendary Australian whose five world title record David overtook.
Nicol has almost single-handedly put squash on the map in her home country – and earlier this year won a record eighth ‘Malaysian Sportswoman of the Year’ award. She won her first of three (quadrennial) Asian Games gold medals in 1998, aged just 15, and in April this year claimed her eighth successive (biennial) Asian Championship crown.
“I played my best match ever to win my sixth World title,” admitted David after her Rotterdam triumph. “But I would happily trade all my six world titles for Olympic Gold.”
In addition to the WISPA and PSA Player of the Year awards, there were other notable presentations. WSF Vice President Heather Deayton received the Services to Squash award. Leading figure of Hong Kong Squash from 1984 to 2005, Deayton was part of the organising team from the first Hong Kong Open in 1985 – and is still on the committee today. One of the sport’s most popular figures, she has been involved in the management of several Asian Championships and World championships staged in Hong Kong and has been a vice president of the WSF since 2006.
Meanwhile, the WSF AGM acknowledged three people in diverse fields of squash who have been working assiduously over many years:
Don Ball – a South African who has been involved with the Rules of the Game for many years. He has been involved in their updating and their interpretation, and answers questions on rules on the WSF website in the site’s popular ‘Ask Don’ section
Major Maniam – was the Malaysian national coach for some years before stepping up to become Asian Federation Coaching Director nearly ten years ago. The popular Malaysian has similarly headed the WSF Coaching and Development Committees
Col Clapper – was installed as Executive Director of the Oceania Squash Federation on its formation 19 years ago, and also became President four years later. Based in Brisbane, Clapper shortly steps down as Executive Director, but Oceania will continue to have his immense experience as President for the region