Squash queen Nicol David has been crowned “The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time” with a huge win in a global online poll that ended at 9pm yesterday.
The only Asian candidate, the eight-time squash world champion, who had been the frontrunner since day one, garnered 318,943 votes to secure the win with an over 200,000-vote majority, according to The World Games’ official website.
The 37-year-old Penangite, who had an unprecedented record nine-year reign as the world’s number one, outclassed 23 other athletes representing their respective sports from all editions of the World Games’ 40-year history in the poll.
“It came as a surprise to see me among these other top athletes and I’m grateful for this… hopefully it can elevate attention for the future of squash, and it’s a proud moment to represent my country and Asia,” Nicol said on her win.
Her closest rival was Ireland’s James Kehoe, who represented his country in tug-of-war in nine World Games with 113,120 votes, followed by women’s powerlifting athlete Larysa Soloviova from Ukraine with 80,790 votes and German Marcel Hassemeier (lifesaving) with 79,760 votes.
The winners will receive an Athlete of the Year trophy and a branded gift from the official sponsor.
International World Games Association president Jose Perurena congratulated the candidates, adding that Nicol was an inspiration and a role model for younger athletes.
“The race was incredible, and it was good to see how athletes got support not only from their own sport, but also from their respective countries and the highest sports authorities there.
“Sports really unite people in a special way. This vote was a celebration of that,” he said.
World Squash Federation president Zena Wooldridge meanwhile said Nicol’s victory was recognition of a wonderful career that saw her break numerous records and win everything there was to be won in the sport.
The Greatest Athlete of All Time poll was held in conjunction with the World Games 40th anniversary after the first edition was held in 1981 at Santa Clara, California.
The poll started on Jan 8, with only the top 10 candidates continuing the race after Jan 20.