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June 07, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 (Bernama) -- The conferment of the `Order of Merit' by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin on national squash queen Nicol Ann David is seen as the country's highest recognition for sports.

With the conferment, Nicol, 24, becomes the first recipient of the award given to Malaysians who are renowned at national and international levels.

Established on June 26, 1975, the award is limited to 10 recipients who have made significant contributions in arts, science and humanity. The award, however, does not carry any title.

"She deserves the award. We in the SRAM (Squash Racket Association of Malaysia) are very proud of her achievement and congratulate Nicol for it.

"The SRAM hopes the award would spur Nicol to progress further in squash. The award is the country's highest recognition to Nicol for her hard work in bringing glory to the country," said SRAM deputy president Datuk Syed Mustaffa Syed Ali when contacted by Bernama.

Penang-born Nicol was first introduced to the sport at the age of five and for the following three years, she started to take the sport seriously.

Her successes in the sport include recognition by the Women's International Squash Players Association (Wispa) with the latest success being the British Open title which she wrested in May.

For the record, Nicol has won 27 titles in the Wispa World Tour series as of May out of the total of 79 championships which she had competed in since 2000.

She is currently competing in the Seoul Squash Open Championship in South Korea from June 2 to 7 to lift her fourth title for this year.

Besides Nicol, several other athletes, former athletes, and sports association officials have also been conferred awards in conjunction with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's birthday.