Legend Nicol inspires Malaysian women for Olympics

KUALA LUMPUR: International Women's Day, which is celebrated world-wide today, holds significant meaning in Malaysian sports, particularly when reflecting on the achievements of iconic figures like squash queen Datuk Nicol David.

Nicol's career not only embodies sporting excellence but also stands out as a powerful symbol of female empowerment and accomplishment in Malaysia.

Though Nicol's illustrious playing career ended in 2019, the Penangite continues to blaze trails for Malaysian sports, and as the 2024 Paris Olympics Deputy Chef de Mission (CDM), she believes there is potential to be unlocked from Malaysian female athletes.

Nicol reckons that with increased support, Malaysian female athletes can achieve success on the global stage, including at the Olympics.

For the 2024 Paris Olympics, three female athletes — sailor Nur Shazrin Latif, recurve archer Ariana Nur Dania Zairi, and road cyclist Nur Aisyah Mohd Zubir — have secured qualification.

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Malaysia had 18 female athletes out of 30 while there were 15 female athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I think we are showing now that female athletes are taking charge. They are becoming role models in their own sports," Nicol said recently,

"This inspires more girls to participate in fields like archery, road cycling or other sports, and we need more role models like this."

Nicol, who is regarded as the greatest in women's squash, believes that the recently announced Fast Track programme by the Road To Gold (RTG) committee, could be pivotal in Malaysia's quest for its first-ever Olympic gold medal.

The Fast Track programme aims to nurture talented athletes aged 16 to 25 with the goal of clinching gold at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

"We are excited that now with the new Fast Track RTG initiative, we can actually spur on more of our younger athletes and more talent to really bring them forward and support them.

"With four years until LA 2028, and even the following one (Brisbane 2032) we need to build our foundation now.

"We have so many great talent, but we don't have to wait too long to build them now and give them the right support straight away," said Nicol.

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