Interview with Datuk Nicol David, eight-time world squash champion and Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s brand ambassador

As the COVID-19 pandemic puts the entire world to a standstill with lockdowns and restricted movements, Datuk Nicol David is taking a stand in encouraging Malaysians to stay focus on the positives and keep our mind and body active during this trying times.

Datuk Nicol David is a record-holder in the world women’s squash titles, the best female athlete in Malaysian history and one of the greatest squash players of all time. As one of the ambassadors of the Laureus Sports for Good Foundation and brand ambassador of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, Datuk Nicol often participates in projects which affect positive change through her passion for sports and healthy living. She has previously spoken out on the values of understanding, solidarity, respect and communication.

After a 20-year career streak in squash, Datuk Nicol David officially announced her retirement in 2019 with a firm belief in sharing her knowledge and experience from squash with the world. With the pandemic affecting individuals and businesses globally, Datuk Nicol believes that the world needs solidarity now more than ever. Solidarity in staying apart, that is.

Nicol, the entire world has been put to a stop due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you share with us how important is social distancing for you and how can it save the global citizen?

Social distancing is crucial to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but most importantly, it also depends on how responsible we act towards the instructions set by our government, as well as understanding what’s the “new normal”. It is said that for the following months, we have to not only stay home, but at the same time apply the safety measure when we have to leave our homes. We must be disciplined in wearing our masks, washing our hands as often as possible and be extremely conscious of those around us and try to keep a safe distance from them. This is a time to come together and truly think about not just yourself, but everybody else. I believe that more compassionate we are towards others, the more effective the result of the safety measures will be.

Social distancing could possibly be the situation for an extended period of time. Could you share some tips for those trying to adjust to the new normal?

After over 40 days of lockdown, I believe our new normal is having social distance. It helps once you establish a routine and schedule for yourself. A day plan over your time dedicated to work, to doing house chores, exercising and not forgetting doing whatever that makes you happy. It’s always about seeing the glass half full than half empty.

As a public figure, we believe practicing social distancing can be challenging for you as well, how do you stay connected with your family, friends and fans?

I’m making a point to be closer to family and friends during this time. It’s very important to have social connection since we need to stay in the same place for a long time. Therefore, I’m glad we have multiple video conferencing options available to keep in touch with my family and friends. With my fans, I’m trying to motivate them to exercise and most importantly, to have a positive mindset. I’m a true believer that life is mostly about how we think of it.

Talk us through the small measures you currently practice that contributes to keeping COVID-19 at bay in the country?

I’m doing what is necessary and in-line with the government rules. I think if each individual takes these recommendations seriously then we’re doing a great job as a society.

As someone who has always been active in sports, how has the situation changed the way you keep active?

Nothing much has changed, frankly. The only difference now is that I’m working out in my living room, rather than the gym. I have been watching some live workouts and using some workout applications on my phone to exercise. I think now that I have more free time in hand, I am actually working out more than before! Pretty exciting!

Social distancing helps prevent the spread of the virus, but it can also have unintended consequences towards social interaction on mental or physical health for some individuals. What do you think of this and how do you think one can cope with this?

The most important thing is to realize that it is okay to be feeling down or frustrated during this trying times. Instead of ignoring these feelings, I would truly recommend that you find someone to talk to and take some time to digest and understand your feelings. Feelings will always pass and therefore, as soon as you overcome them, just try to go back to what keeps you happy and motivated.

In keeping positive, in your opinion, what are among the good things that this situation has brought about?

I think we can realize that we need fairly less than we think of. Small pleasures can be great ones as well. I truly hope that as a society, we learn from this and start changing the way we interact with the world in general.

Lastly, what advice can you share with those who have started to feel stress about not being able to go out or those who are disobeying the social distancing?

Feeling stress is natural, we just have to try to focus on turning it around so that it does not overwhelm us. Regarding disobeying the social distancing, I just hope they realize that not only they’re putting themselves at risk but also their family and loved ones.

Izzat Shaharel
Being an adrenaline junkie, Izzat has always had a passion for cars. From a compact to a supercar, he doesn't discriminate and judges based on merits. Being in the automotive industry for the past few years, he's an aspiring automotive journalist and has been making Youtube videos since May 2019.

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