LONDON: She was never given the chance to shine on an Olympic stage, but squash superstar Nicol David may derive some compensation from being named the World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time.
Winning the accolade on Monday with almost three times as many votes as the runner-up, the Malaysian said she hoped the award would help to boost the profile of a sport seemingly unloved in key quarters.
"Hopefully it can elevate attention for the future of squash," David said as the sport - already part of the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games - now eyes inclusion in the Paris Olympics in 2024.
For years David has been the face of a campaign to admit squash to the Olympics, but has instead had to watch sports including rugby sevens, climbing, karate, surfing and skateboarding gain the stamp of approval ahead of it.
While tennis players, badminton players and table tennis players all enjoy their spell in the Olympic sun every four years, squash still peers in from the outside.
The now-retired David, ranked world number one for a record 108 consecutive months, beat Irish tug-of-war titan James Kehoe into second place, with third going to Ukrainian powerlifter Larysa Soloviova.
Athletes on the shortlist came from sports including lifesaving, sumo, dancesport and racquetball.
The World Games take place every four years - a year after the Summer Olympic Games - and feature athletes, sports and disciplines that are not part of the Olympics.
Founded in 1980, the 11th edition will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, in July 2022, when some 3,600 athletes from more than 30 sports and 100 countries will take part.
(Reporting by: Ossian Shine; editing by Clare Fallon)