Get to Know An Amsterdammer - Sports Edition


You meet some very interesting people in this city.

A year or so ago, I wrote a short collection of posts called "Get to Know an Amsterdammer". It featured people profiles from interesting locals (not necessarily long-term residents) from a variety of professions and backgrounds.

Nicol David, six-time and reigning squash world champion

In the hopes of reviving this series, I managed to meet a great person to start with: Nicol David, the reigning six-time world champion female squash player. Nicol, 28, is from Malaysia, and she's also possibly the nicest world champion of anything.

We sat down at the club where she trains, Squash City, and had a great chat for close to 90 minutes.

Here we go, with part 1:

What brings you to Amsterdam?

In 2003, I came here to be close to my coach, Liz Irving, who was living in Amsterdam already. I met Liz on tour years earlier and decided she would be a great fit for me. Career-wise, it was the best move for me - Liz knows what is takes to be a top-tier player, she offered me a lot in terms of learning and still has a lot to offer today. She's one of the best mentors for a female squash player.

I loved the city when I first visited, in 2001. I felt comfy right away when I loved here, it's a big city but feels like a small town.

Amsterdam is not known for its "healthy" lifestyle image - what do you do outside of training?

The "unhealthy" scene that tourists know is only a small part of it. There's so much to do - the architecture, the arts, the music - and people have the freedom to do whatever they want and there's a respect for what anyone wants to do. I can focus solely on squash. I also like that you can bike everywhere. The rain doesn't bother me that much - squash is weather-proof.

I'm normally so tired after training that I don't do much![Ed.Nicol spends approximately 20 hours/week on the court, and has recently added another step up to her training with Patrick, her personal trainer at Squash City]. Westerpark (Westergas Fabriek), and music gigs and festivals are some of my favourites.

What are your favourite places to play, as a tourist and from a player's perspective?

Wow, so many places. As a tourist, Australia and New Zealand are amazing. I can see myself living in either place, with the nature and the peace. Mexico, for the food and the people - they have a similar style to Malaysia. And Rio has a great beach and sporting culture.

The setting for squash in the Cayman Islands

As a player, some of the coolest locations are the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong. In the Caymans, you play in a glass box by the bay - a beautiful setting. And the harbourfront, in view of the Hong Kong skyline, is another great location to play. They host of the best tournaments each year.

Part 2 comes later this week, and talks about Nicol's work with the UN, her insane travel schedule, and more.