Having seen her all-time record of months at world No. 1 broken Sunday by Nicol David, Dame Susan Devoy gave an exclusive statement to US Squash today:
I have only had the pleasure of meeting Nicol David once. A number of years ago I traveled with the New Zealand’s women’s team to the World Championships in Cairo. One morning I was sitting watching her practice. When she recognized me, she immediately came off the court and shook my hand. This was a mark of respect I will never forget. I think to the rest of the players I resembled some old fossil that must have played in the Dark Ages.
Since then I have followed her career from afar. Thankfully the advances in technology and social media have allowed me to keep up to date with the international scene, and I have been able to follow Nicol’s rise. Nicol’s coach Liz Irving was one of my arch rivals and a good friend and obviously their coach & player relationship has been extraordinarily successful.
Squash is now a much more global sport than in my day. Just as I was retiring squash was becoming stronger in the U.S. and more recently we have seen the strength of the Egyptians women emerge plus many other countries than the traditional nations that once ruled the courts.
Squash couldn’t ask for a better ambassador than Nicol. Here is someone who epitomizes professionalism on and off the court. She has handled fame with great humility in the manner of a true champion.
I sense she works very hard. I know from experience that staying number one for such a long period doesn’t come without real dedication and attention to detail. Consistency seems to be the key and a mental strength and belief knowing she has done the work needed to stay at the top. Like all champions, she has had her defeats , but the real test of a true champion is to come back stronger and we have witnessed that in the last year.
Undoubtedly Nicol has helped put squash on the world sporting stage. It is such a shame that this is not recognized by the IOC with inclusion in the Olympics. Squash is definitely a sport that fulfills the criteria and if it is successful one day we will owe a lot to Nicol for that.
I offer my congratulations to Nicol for her record. I have no idea what she has planned for her future. I retired at twenty-nine after winning the 1992 World Championships. I have many fond memories of my time at the top and all these years later am grateful for the many wonderful opportunities this great game gave me. I wish the same for Nicol David.
—Dame Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner, New Zealand Human Rights Commission