Sazali Samad holds aloft his 2013 Sportsman of the Year trophy during the awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Monday. - AZHAR ARIF/ The Star
PETALING JAYA: Winning the British Open on Sunday was just the tip of the iceberg for world No. 1 Nicol David as she was named 2013 National Sportswoman of the Year.
It was Nicol’s eighth award, having already won in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010.
Last year, the 30-year-old Nicol won six Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Tour titles - the World Series Finals, Malaysian Open, Carol Weymuller Open, US Open, China Open and Hong Kong Open. She also topped that with a gold medal from the World Games for one of her most fruitful seasons.
The win also cements Nicol’s status as one of Malaysia’s greatest sporting icons.
She beat out fellow nominees Pandelela Rinong (diving), Kelly Tan (golf), Casier Renee Kelly Lee (athletics), Diana Bong (wushu) and Nisha Alagasan (karate) for the award.
In the men’s category, bodybuilder Sazali Samad, who bagged his ninth Mr Universe title at the World Championships in Budaors, Hungary, last November, was named the 2013 National Sportsman of the Year.
This is the second time Sazali has won the award - he also won in 2006.
The 47-year-old also bagged the bronze at the 47th Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship and the silver at the Myanmar SEA Games last year.
The policeman edged out close competition from badminton world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, as well as Lim Chee Wei (karate), Benjamin Khor (shooting), Mohd Jironi Riduan (athletics), Ooi Tze Liang (diving) and Hon Mun Hua (wushu).
Both Nicol and Sazali pocketed RM20,000 each.
The National Men’s Team award of the Year meanwhile went to the national hockey juniors who finished fourth at the Junior Hockey World Cup last December.
Their coach, K. Dharmaraj, who has since gone on to become the national coach, was awarded the men’s coach award.
The women’s team award went to the country’s dive darlings Pandelela-Leong Mun Yee, who took bronze in the 10m synchronised platform at the World Championships last year. The pair, who are Malaysia’s best divers, also took silver at the World Series in Moscow, and were gold medallists at the SEA Games.