Nazihah Hanis Abdul Razak or better known as Nazihah is a third-year Health Sciences student from the Faculty of Health Sciences, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). Nazihah is a name that people reckon as the inspiring icon in squash who hails from land of the paddy field, Kedah. Over the years Nazihah has represented Malaysia in multiple international squash tournaments.
Some prominent achievements she has achieved include becoming the first ever Malaysian team to finish in the top four of World’s Junior Squash Championship in Netherland and recently winning silver medal for Malaysia at the 2017 SEA Games. Looking back at her achievements, Nazihah is truly a gem to be reckoned with. However, the road has never been easy for her.
It all started with a pinch of curiosity. In her earlier days, Nazihah played squash with the innocent intention to just lose weight and to have fun. Little did she know, she has an aptitude in squash and a huge hidden potential waiting to be unleashed years later. After playing for some time, her coaches noticed her talent and encouraged her to participate in the national championship.
Nazihah could recall vividly how bad she did during her first squash tournament, but she did not let the losing experience define who she is as a person and instead made it a stepping stone for her future success. Driven by a thirst to win, she always push herself to go the extra mile and her hard work paid off. Nazihah made her breakthrough in the following national tournament and was recruited into the national team. It was a defining moment in her life as she was on the cusp of becoming a professional athlete.
Nazihah’s determination, competitiveness, and discipline help build her squash career. In 2016, Nazihah was making a name for herself when she won several national and international accolades. She was then at her acme when she broke into the top 100 world ranking at age 21. However, Nazihah soon faced her first major setback of her career. She injured her hamstring which is usually a death knell to an athlete's career. She had no other choice but to call a stop to recuperate. Feeling downtrodden, the unexpected blow laid like a crashing plane, making a devastating impact on her career and pushed her to the verge of giving up.
The pain of her injury and the pain of knowing her efforts are going into vain is unbearable. Throughout this painful moment, her coach is always by her side as her strongest pillar of support. Her coach believed that Nazihah still has a bright future and did his very best to help her recover. He developed special sets of training programs to slowly build her fitness level from scratch after not playing for several months. It was because of her persistence and the support of her coach and family members which reignited her passion in squash. Nazihah came back, and did she come back strong. In 2018, Nazihah helped Malaysia to clinch a silver medal in the women double event at the SEA Games.
Nazihah is definitely a remarkable person and role model to many youths out there. This is because she managed to achieve so much during her high school time. Like Datuk Nicol Ann David, Nazihah scores in the court and also in her exams. For Nazihah, juggling between studies and sports is not easy. Trying to fit everything into schedule would be nerve-racking for one to manage. Her teachers were always concerned about her studies and exhorted her to focus on her studies. However, Nazihah thought otherwise.
Despite being a professional player, Nazihah knows her priority as a student and puts her studies first. Nazihah believes that only in adding value to our academics we can also see the world in a bigger picture thus making us more rational and wiser. Throughout her high school days Nazihah also learned that in order to get your teachers or anyone else to have faith in you, you got to first prove to them that you are capable. We should not complain about the system or lament the problem we face in life. We have to prove to others that we are worthy of their trust.
Most of us would think Nazihah as an uprising star, playing with so much passion and fiery. Little do we know that Nazihah is an iron lady herself. Her injury is only one of many hardships she had faced. In 2018, Nazihah lost her father. Nazihah was in Australia for an international championship when she first heard the news. It was devastating and heart-breaking for her. Her father is an individual whom her family relies on and looks up to. Losing him to them is like losing the sun. Seeing her family suffering in pain and not knowing how to navigate the situation, Nazihah took the responsibility to lead her family back on track. Nazihah once again made a painful decision to quit squash for a year not for anything but for her family whom she holds dearest.
Fast forward a year later when the dusts had settled, Nazihah decided to pick up her racquet again. Today, Nazihah is working hard to rebuild her professional career after the hiatus. It might be difficult, but she isn’t giving up without a fight. Not being in the national team for Nazihah is not a setback because in making the decision to temporarily quit squash, she had chosen her family. For Nazihah, there is no point in winning medals if you can’t share the joy with the people you love. When asked if there is one advice she could give to the young people out there, Nazihah said ‘Life is full of uncertainties so start making the most of your life by challenging yourself, go beyond boundaries and explore the world while you can. As the only risk in life is not taking risk at all.’