KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 (Bernama) -- The Youth and Sports Ministry will give a special recognition to national squash queen Datuk Nicol Ann David, who has announced that she will hang up her racquets in June.
Its minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the recognition was to show its appreciation for Nicol’s services in bringing fame and glory to the country in the international arena over the last 20 years.
“I have already instructed the National Sports Council (NSC) director-general to give a special incentive, maybe not in terms of cash but as a form of grant, for her to plan for her future.
“However, there are a few important matters (regarding her post-retirement plans) that she will announce later,” he told reporters after the Malaysian Youth Parliament townhall session at the Akademi Kenegaraan here today.
The 35-year-old Penangite occupied the world number one ranking for nine years before being overtaken by Egyptian ace Raneem El Weleily in 2015. Nicol was also the first Asian to be ranked No. 1 in the now-defunct Women’s International Squash Players Association (Wispa) in 2006.
During her illustrious career, Nicol also won gold medals at the World Championships (three), Asian Games (five) and Commonwealth Games (two) as well as bagging the coveted British Open title twice.
Asked why Nicol was being rewarded with a special recognition while many other national athletes were ignored, Syed Saddiq said: “We’re trying to set the right standard. If we look at their contributions and find there are athletes who have been ignored, we will help.
“As for this problem (of athletes being neglected), we have met them and the NSC are looking at ways to move forward.”
On another matter, Syed Saddiq expressed disappointment at the National Under-22 football team’s 0-1 defeat by Cambodia in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Under-22 Championship yesterday.
He was also irked by the attitude of some state football associations for not allowing their players to answer national call-up for international-standard tournaments.
“I am disappointed with this situation. When it’s time to represent the country, obviously that should be the main focus (of state football associations in letting their players represent the country).
“My advice to them is to please put Malaysia first because when the national players get recognition, so will everyone else,” he said.