SQUASH queen Nicol David clinched a hat trick of titles at the Penang State Sports Awards 2014 ceremony.
Besides being named Sportswoman of the Year for a record 13th time, Nicol also bagged the TYT Premier Award, the top prize in the ceremony at the Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya recently.
It was the seventh time since the TYT Premier Award was introduced 11 years ago that the 32-year-old Nicol was awarded the top prize. She also won it in 2004-07, 2009 and 2011. The only other athlete to win it is badminton player Lee Chong Wei, in the other four years.
Nicol was feted for her achievements in bagging a handful of titles last year, including a record eighth world crown and gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games meets.
She completed her collection of awards for 2014 when she swept the best female team top prize with fellow Penangites Low Wee Wern and Vanessa Raj. The trio were part of the Malaysian team which bagged the 2014 Incheon Asian Games gold medal in the women’s squash team event.
Diver Ooi Tze Liang took advantage of the absence of Chong Wei, who was not nominated for 2014, to bag his maiden state Sportsman of the Year award.
The 22-year-old, who won a gold medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and a silver in the Incheon Asian Games, overcame stiff competition from karate exponent Lim Chee Wei, an Asian Games winner, to bag the state award.
Both Nicol and Tze Liang were not present at the ceremony, and were represented by their fathers Desmond David and Ooi Hong Chen respectively.
Despite Chee Wei losing out, fellow karate exponents picked up three other prizes in the ceremony.
The World Karate Championships 2014 men’s kata bronze medal winning trio of Hoe Thomson, Leong Tze Wei and Emmanuel Leong were selected as the best male team.
Former Asian Games gold medallist Ku Jin Keat, who coached Chee Wei to the gold medal in Incheon, picked up the best coach prize.
And 15-year-old karate exponent Ooi San Hong won the best promising male athlete award for his feats in picking up an individual bronze and team gold medals in the Asian Karate Championships last year.
“It feels good to win, and this award will spur me on to perform better in the future,” said San Hong, a St Xavier’s Institution student.
“I must thank my coaches (Jin Keat and Lim Lee Lee) for putting the faith in a rookie like me to compete at the Asian Karate Championships, which is a high-level competition. It was my first international assignment and I am glad that I did not let anyone down.”
Squash player Nur Aliah Izzati Anis was the surprise winner in the best promising female athlete category. The 15-year-old SMK Taman Kenari Kulim student’s biggest achievement last year was a triumph in the Pontefract Junior Open girls’ Under-15 category in England.
Nur Aliah won the award ahead of the likes of shuttler Goh Jin Wei, who was 14 when she became the youngest player to win a badminton singles gold at the Malaysia Games (Sukma), and 17-year-old bowler Anis Shazlin Zulkhisham, who upstaged the top national players to win the women’s open titles in the KL Open and Penang Pesta International tournaments.
“I did not expect to win the award as there were other strong contenders in the category. I feel proud to win, and will continue to work hard in achieving my next target, which is to win a title in the British Junior Open,” said Nur Aliah.
Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas presented the top awards to the winners.
ROLL OF HONOUR
TYT PREMIER AWARD: Nicol David (squash)
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR: Ooi Tze Liang (diving)
SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR: Nicol David (squash)
BEST PROMISING MALE ATHLETE: Ooi San Hong (karate)
BEST PROMISING FEMALE ATHLETE: Nur Aliah Izzati (squash)
BEST MALE TEAM: Hoe Thomson, Leong Tze Wei, Emmanuel Leong (karate)
BEST FEMALE TEAM: Nicol David, Low Wee Wern, Vanessa Raj (squash)
BEST MALE PARALYMPIC ATHLETE: Muhamad Suhaili Hamid (bowling)
BEST FEMALE PARALYMPIC ATHLETE: Rabiatul Adawiyah Azhar (swimming)
BEST COACH: Ku Jin Keat (karate)
SPORTS LEADERSHIP AWARD: Wan Abdul Hamid Wan Mahmood (boxing)