KUALA LUMPUR: Squash queen Nicol David announced today she will retire at the end of the 2018-2019 Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour season in June.
After a dazzling career spanning over two decades, Nicol, who turns 36 in August, said it is now the right time to move on to a new chapter in her life.
However, Nicol made it clear that she is determined to remain active in the sport she loves.
The Penangite, who burst onto the scene as a teenager in the late 1990s, was voted by fans and peers as the Greatest of All Time in the women’s game. She is an eight-time world champion and was World No 1 for 112 months.
“After more than 20 years playing squash for Malaysia, competing on the professional tour and achieving the utmost best from my career - being the only Malaysian athlete to achieve these accolades and to be recognised as the greatest female squash athlete of all time by my peers - I can proudly say that I am ready and happy to announce my retirement at the end of this season,” said Nicol, in a statement released to the media.
“This is a moment that every athlete must go through — to explore fully what more there is in store for them. I am now at this point in my life, ready to take on more beyond the pro tour.
“This decision has been thought through for quite some time and I do know this is my last season. My mind and body have battled it out to stay at the very top of my game for such a long time.
“I feel that I only have this last big push left for the final season to give it all I have before I enter the next phase of my life,” she said.
The former World No 1 has found the going tough in recent times and last year dropped out of the top-10 for the first time in over a decade as her younger opponents moved up the ranks.
Nicol disclosed that she is looking to give back to the sport and Malaysia via three initiatives she has lined up for herself upon retiring from the sport.
The five-time British Open winner will be working closely with the PSA to raise awareness of the sport globally in addition to building a support team for professional athletes.
She will also focus on the Nicol David Foundation, in partnership with PwC, which is aimed at empowering girls through sports while improving their studies and soft skills.
Nicol will also share her experiences through a series of talks and written material.
“I love squash with all my heart and it will always play an important role in my life. Which is why I would like to give back in (these) three ways,” added Nicol.
“This is just the start of more exciting things planned and I cannot wait to venture into this next phase with all of you.
“Throughout these next few months till the end of the seasonal tour in June, I will be sharing through my ‘The Dream Remains’ campaign, everything that my life in squash has given me.
“I would like to enjoy my last few tournaments together with everyone through this campaign in the hopes of giving all a chance to have their own dreams to go forth the way I plan to keep striving for.”
Nicol also expressed her gratitude to various parties and people who have all contributed to her success including her family, long-time coach Liz Irving, fans and sponsors.
“Thank you from my heart for the amazing support from all of you, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Sports Council and the Institute of Sport Malaysia, Penang Sports Council, all squash associations involved throughout my career - SRAM, SRAP and The Penang Squash Academy.
“My technical and support team with the incredible Liz Irving working with me for sixteen wonderful years together – what a great journey it has been!
“This unimaginable squash journey would not have happened without my family’s love and guidance to take me through everything and now more! They are the heart of my success and right now, it is how I can contribute to a bigger purpose to fulfil my mission in life.
"All my friends from all over who have been by my side in every way, in every step, I will always be grateful for their constant support and will be with them more than ever as I go through these moments after my squash pro tour."
Nicol, who is currently No 21 in the world rankings, will compete in the World Championships in Chicago on Feb 23-March 2 where she will be seeded 13th.