We caught up with eight-time World Champion Nicol David in our latest Beyond the Glass episode.
SquashTV’s Nathan Clarke discussed lockdown, being voted the greatest rally of the last decade and retirement one year on with the Malaysian icon.
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Nathan Clarke: So, Nicol six weeks into lockdown, how are things for you? How has life been? What’s life like?
Nicol David: Life has been good actually. The six weeks have given me chance to stay put in one place because it has been such a journey for me just moving around this year and doing a lot of things in Malaysia as well. Now I’m in Colombia, in Bogota, and it’s been good. I have some time to really settle in, do my home workouts and get on my Spanish classes – trying to get better with my Spanish online and just keeping busy.
NC: It’s been almost exactly a year since you retired from the sport – how has that transition been?
ND: It’s been the best year to be honest. I completely enjoy my time and I knew it was the right time to retire when I made the decision, when I came out of it I was the happiest not having to run around a squash court and thinking about training so hard that I’m fit enough to compete with the rest of the pack. It’s been great for my mind to be free from that, but at the same time I’m still enjoying watching squash and seeing everybody else run around in their own part.
NC: Has there been a part of you that has missed that competitive edge at all?
ND: No, not at all. I do miss the tour and the players and hanging out with them and seeing everybody. But I don’t miss being on that court, especially when you watch those big matches in the big tournaments. All of them are killing each other on court and I’m sitting behind my computer, going ‘I’m so glad I’m not in that court’, trying to run around and suffer each point. I’ve done that for 20 years and I’m happy that I can just watch from the outside.
NC: A few weeks ago we did a bit of a poll on PSA for rallies of the decade and you came out on top – what did you make of the poll and how did it feel to be voted the best rally of the last ten years?
ND: It was a surprise. I saw all of the rallies when PSA were posting them and I thought ‘ok, I’m in the mix and I’m just happy to be among the group that came out with really good rallies’. I thought there was no chance [I’d win], but when I came out on top it was the rally with Camille [Serme] and I was quite amazed with the fact that I was voted the best rally with Camille and she actually had five best rallies in that top 10, so I’m glad that I was with her in that rally. It was the British Open and I was playing pretty good to beat her and it brought back good memories. I’d like to thank all those that voted for me to be the best rally of the decade because I never expected it in a million years. I do cherish all of those moments and PSA helps me to too by reminding me of the old footage they have put together. I think there was one from the Cayman Islands, where I did a dive with Natalie Grinham and I couldn’t remember that video and didn’t know where it came from and then remembered SquashTV had it and it’s nice to remember and Steve Line [PSA Photographer] was so proud with that photo because he had caught my first dive on picture.
NC: Obviously, you had a long career with a lot of success, but the current players are probably going through the most unique scenario that any sports person has been through. Have you been keeping in touch with your old rivals and friends? And speaking to them over the last month to find out how they’re getting on?
ND: Some players I’ve been keeping in touch with and also watching them on Instagram and seeing what they’re up to. They are all keeping very positive and keeping up with their training and having moments of fun as well to just keep themselves entertained. It’s a very strange scenario that everyone is going through. Not just athletes, but everyone around the world, it’s just finding ways to do something that is a positive and I think our squash players are really doing a good job to keep positive and active and stick to their training programme even without the squash court. They are finding good ways to keep fit and that’s what athletes do, they find a way to come out of something that is a tough situation and come out of it stronger. I do feel for them because if I was in their position of having to prepare for tournaments that you’re not sure of or the tour that you’re not fully aware of what is going to happen – I feel for them but I know that they are all working to be fired and ready for anything that comes their way.