Sazali and Nicol crowned the best once again


National bodybuilder Sazali Samad receiving his Sportsman of the Year trophy from Sports and Youth Minister Khairy Jamaluddin at the awards ceremony in Subang on Tuesday. - RICKY LAI/ The STAR

KUALA LUMPUR: Ten-time world bodybuilding champion Sazali Samad and squash queen Nicol David have done it again.

On Tuesday, the duo were named the country’s best athletes for the second straight year.

Nicol beat six other nominees – Syakilla Salni (karate), Siti Zalina Ahmad (lawn bowls), Nur Suryani Taibi (shooting), Sin Li Jane (bowling), Cheong Jun Hoong (diving) and Tan Li Lian (bodybuilding) – to lift the 2014 Sportswoman of the Year award. It was worth RM20,000.

It was Nicol’s record ninth Sportswoman of the Year award, having won it in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2013.

Nicol was in outstanding form last year, including winning an eighth British Open title and a record eighth world crown. Her other contributions were winning a gold at the Commonwealth Games and two golds at the Asian Games. She also guided Malaysia to their best-ever second-place finish at the World Team Championships in Canada.

For policeman Sazali, it was his fourth Sportsman of the Year award. He was also the winner in 2000, 2006 and 2013.

The 48-year-old Sazali beat Ooi Tze Liang (diver), Lee Chong Wei (badminton), Mohd Azizulhazni Awang (cycling), Hafifi Mansor (weightlifting) and Lim Chee Wei (karate) to take home RM20,000.

Sazali was declared the winner for emerging champion at the Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship in Macau and bagging his 10th Mr Universe title at the World Championships in India.

Sazali was delighted to win the award for the second consecutive year.

“Many athletes would have retired when they reach 35. But despite my age, I am still in top shape and form.

“I will continue representing the country in competitions as long as I can. Winning the award again has also boosted my confidence to win the Mr Universe title for a record 11th time in Bangkok in November,” said Sazali.

The national men’s Team of the Year award went to sailors Mohd Faizal Norizan and Ahmad Syukri Abdul Aziz for winning the gold in the laser event at the Asian Games.

Nicol also won another award – the women’s Team of the Year – with Low Wee Wern, Delia Arnold, Zulhijjah Azan and Vanessa Raj. They helped Malaysia win the Asiad team gold as well as finishing runners-up at the World Team Championships.

The late Mohd Azlan Mat Lazin, who died in a road accident in January, bagged the men’s Paralympic award for his efforts in winning three golds at the Asian Para Games in South Korea.

The women’s Paralympic award went to Siti Nooriasah Mohd Ariffin for winning a gold and a silver at the Asian Para Games.

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