UPDATES, with pictures. Oct 21, 6.45am
KUALA LUMPUR: Tears of joy flowed down the cheeks of Malaysian squash icon Nicol David as her name was immortalised at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
The centre court was officially renamed the Nicol David Arena in recognition of her achievements, including four World Open titles and being ranked No. 1 since January, 2006.
Nicol was her usual cool self as a video of her former coaches and school teachers reliving the moments was aired to the audience, who also included her proud parents and athletes from Bukit Jalil Sports School.
But the 26-year-old broke down as she was asked to make a speech after the official unveiling ceremony was done in glitzy fashion.
Nicol, who was initially lost for words as she was overwhelmed by the occasion, said that she felt deeply honoured to see her name put on the court.
“To be recognised by the country, the state and everyone present here, this is truly amazing,” she said.
“I’m grateful that the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Sports Council have been so supportive of what I am doing.
“It means a lot to be where I am today. And to have come to this point to put my name on this court ... this is the icing on the cake.”
Nicol added that the recognition was a further boost to her efforts to continue with her dominance in world women’s squash.
The Penangite is one of the most accomplished players on the Women’s International Squash Professional Association (Wispa) circuit, having won a total of 40 titles thus far since turning professional in 2000.
She was also the youngest world junior champion and has won the national sportswoman award for a record six times.
Except for a Commonwealth Games title, Nicol has won all other major titles squash has to offer, including the Asian Games and the prestigious British Open in which she is a three-time winner. She will get the chance to nail the elusive Commonwealth Games gold medal in New Delhi next year.
“I hope to stay on top of my game as next year will be a big year for Malaysian sports. There are more tournaments to come and I have to step up training,” said Nicol, who later handed the very first squash racquet she owned to Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
The wooden racquet will be put on display along with her trophies at the gallery in the National Squash Centre.