SQUASH: Nicol didn't have total focus


I AGREE with Devinder Singh's comment "Don't write her off yet" (NST, Sept 17). In all honesty, Datuk Nicol Ann David's defeat to Egyptian Raneem El Weleily in the just concluded CIMB Malaysian Open final didn't come as a total surprise.

Nicol's performance throughout the tournament wasn't that convincing and consistent as she was seen struggling, especially in the final against Raneem.

The usual composed, focused and relaxed Nicol was clearly missing and she was in tears after the defeat as she took it quite badly.

The Egyptian's 12-10, 11-13, 11-6, 11-2 victory over her Malaysian rival was her first in nine meetings and was certainly a most deserving one. With this defeat, Nicol also lost her chance to capture her eighth Malaysian Open title and also her 63rd tour title.

Nicol's defeat is not so much due to technical and tactical aspects of the game but rather her mental preparation and inner focus which have been her greatest qualities all along.

This could also be because of her recent involvement in a string of promotional activities in which she was trying her level best to have squash included in the 2020 Olympic Games.

There is a public perception that we stand a solid chance of bringing home the first Olympic gold and Nicol is the perfect choice to fulfil this goal wish, if squash is included in the Olympics. In a way, Nicol has put herself under pressure without realising it and these things could have distracted her before the CIMB tournament.

As the current world champion and the world's best woman squash player, Nicol must not be sidetracked by anything and must focus completely on playing squash. She should let other matters outside the game be handled by other people.

Nicol is definitely not finished yet. The defeat is only a temporary hiccup.

In the meantime, we will wait for national No. 2 Low Wee Wern to catch up and take Nicol's place as the Malaysia No. 1 in future.

I hope Nicol will take a break and reflect on what went wrong. I believe she will bounce back stronger and better and do the nation and the game proud, once again.



David Tih, Malacca

Datuk Nicol Ann David (right) putting up a spirited fight against Egyptian Raneem El Weleily in the CIMB Malaysian open last week.

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