Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coach: Olympic desire affecting Nicol’s game

HULL: Nicol David may be the best player in the world but her desire to become an Olympian is perhaps affecting her dominance, according to her coach.
Within one hour of the startling loss of her British Open title on Sunday, Nicol was jumping on a train to hurry to her next commitment.

The record-breaking Malaysian’s schedule required her to dash from the world’s oldest squash tournament to Russia, to try to play an important part in making history – getting squash into the Olympics.

Nicol will be making a presentation in St Petersburg to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and some wonder whether her off-court commitments have affected her mentality, and in turn her squash.

No one wishes to take away from the achievement of Laura Massaro, who became the first home woman to win the British Open in more than 20 years. The Lancastrian has clearly proved herself the closest and worthiest rival to the long-time world No. 1.

However, the intensity of Nicol’s ambassadorial efforts on behalf of her sport has recently brought worried comment from back home in Malaysia and her coach Liz Irving discreetly shows signs of agreeing.

“You have to wonder if it is detrimental a little bit,” Irving said. “She has put all her heart and soul into the Olympic bid process. It’s very close to her heart. It’s something she’s really keen on. She really enjoys it and wants to do it.”

It is clear that Nicol has decided the cost is worth the possible prize. She flew to Russia on Monday to take part in a process which may see the IOC make a decision today to reduce to three the number of candidate sports for the 2020 Olympics.

“I’m delighted to play my part in what is an incredibly important moment for squash,” Nicol said, placing the disappointment of the loss of the British Open title behind her.

“For so long I have dreamed of competing in the Olympic Games – so to be here, presenting to the IOC executive board, is a true honour.

“I just want to show how much competing in the Games would mean to me, as well as to every single player on our tours. I’m particularly proud of the strength and professionalism of the women’s tour and of female participation in the management of our sport.”

The others in squash’s presentational team are World Squash Federation president N. Ramachan-dran, and Ramy Ashour, the men’s world No. 1, who on Sunday became the first Egyptian to win the British Open in nearly 50 years.

Asked if the presentation he has to make affected his competitive performance in any way, Ashour was confident in his response.

“I have learned to empty my mind of everything except what I am doing,” he said.
“I have not always been able to do that and it is not always easy. But I have improved. If you can’t do that you will find it difficult to win, for sure.” — THE STAR

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