Thursday, September 30, 2010

All eyes on Nicol to land the elusive gold medal in Delhi

WORLD No. 1 NICOL David was in tears after she finished empty-handed in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Expectations were high on her to win the gold medal. But she was beaten by Natalie Grinham of Australia in the semi-finals and lost to Shelley Kitchen of New Zealand in the playoff for the bronze.
Nicol has a medal to show from the Commonwealth Games – a silver in the mixed doubles event, partnering Ong Beng Hee, in 2002 edition in Manchester.

And things look very bright for Nicol to nail the elusive gold medal in the Delhi Games.
The 27-year-old Penangite, who has been the world No. 1 since August 2006, has been on fire this year. She has played in seven Women’s International Squash Players Association (Wispa) tournaments thus far and has won all of them.

Nicol started the year by winning the Chennai Open in March and she went on to bag the KL Open (March), Cayman Islands Open (April), Malaysian Open (July), Singapore Masters (July) and the Hong Kong Open.
She also won the Asian title for a record seventh consecutive time in Chennai in May.

In the World Open in Egypt last week, Nicol equalled Australian Sarah Fitz-Gerald’s record of five titles without dropping a set in five matches. Nicol had emerged as the champion in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Nicol, who has bagged a total of 48 Wispa titles since turning pro in 2000, however, is leaving no stones unturned in the quest to win the Commonwealth Games title in New Delhi. She has been training hard under coach Liz Irving in Amsterdam.

“Coach Liz (Irving) has been instrumental in what I have achieved in my career. I have been working with her to give my best in the Commonwealth Games,” Nicol was quoted in the website
www.squa “I will stay focus and will not underestimate any player in the Games.”
Nicol will open her campaign against Damindha Udangawe of Sri Lanka. And the good news is that England’s world No. 3 Alison Waters, who has given her strong challenges in tournaments, is in the other half of the draw with second seeded compatriot Jenny Duncalf.
Among the players in Nicol’s half of the draw are sixth seed Laura Massaro of England and fifth seed Madeline Perry of Ireland.

Besides Nicol the other members of the Malaysian women’s team are Low Wee Wern, Delia Arnold and Sharon Wee.

The men in the team are Mohd Azlan Iskandar, Ong Beng Hee, Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan and Ivan Yuen.
There are five gold medals at stake in the Delhi Games – men’s and women’s individual and doubles and the mixed doubles. All eight Malaysian players will feature in the individual competitions.
In the doubles, Azlan will partner Nafiizwan (men) while Delia will pair up with Wee Wern (women). The two pairs for the mixed doubles are Beng Hee-Nicol and Ivan-Sharon.


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