So what’s it like in the day of Datuk Nicol Ann David nowadays, I ask. One would think that the record-breaking World No 1 squash champion would miss playing competitively, as she’s done professionally for nearly 20 years of her life but she dismisses the idea with an empathetic shake of her head.
“I’m so happy I’m not competing anymore. I know what it takes, not just playing it but the training that goes into it. I did like the travelling… but I can travel now without my rackets and actually visit places. I’ve been to some cities but I hardly got to visit the museums and see some cool sights but now I can!” she says with a little laugh.
A feeling of contentment seems to emanate from her. “I feel freer now,” she says conspiratorially. “The very first time I woke up in the morning after I retired, I felt free. I wasn’t like stuck in a place where I had to do my training because that was all I did for so long.”
Her decision to retire from the sport was an emotional time for her to come to grips with, describing it akin to a “break-up”. At the tail-end of her career, it became really clear to her that she had done all she could with squash and it was time to figure out her next move, which is giving back to the community. And so the Nicol David Organisation is born.
“I was very fortunate that I have the right people—my family, friends, my coach and my team; they were all supportive of my decision to make that next move. They saw that I needed to do something else for myself now and it’s the right time. And the more I started discussing my organisation with Mariana and the people around me, the more I realised that I had other experiences from squash that I can tap on to do new things and create an impact. With my platform I can do that in so many ways. Letting go of squash allowed me to open my mind and heart to other things, where I can give back to society, to women, and to share the knowledge that I gained from my squash career,” says David.