KUALA LUMPUR: The choice of the winner of the 2002 National Sportsman Award is likely to be between the rally duo of Karamjit Singh and Allen Oh and wushu exponent Ho Ro Bin.
Of the 20 nominees for the award the rally duo and Ro Bin boast of having the better credentials and either motorsports or wushu are expected to be named winners of the award for the first time in a ceremony at the Sheraton Subang tonight.
Ro Bin was the gold medallist in the World Championships in Shanghai and also at the Busan Asian Games. He also tok gold in the nandao event at the Beijing International Championships.
The Penangite has been involved in the sports for the last 11 years and last year was the highlight of his career – a winner in all three international championships in which he participated in.
But the Karamjit and Allen may have a slight advantage. They had to go through nine races to secure two titles, which were firsts for Malaysia in the sports. They are also nominees for the team award.
A team have been awarded the individual award before and therefore Karamjit and Allen cannot be ruled out as the winners.
The badminton pair of Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock, who won the 1995 team award, were named winners of the 1996 Sportsman of the Year Award.
Badminton, which has had 13 winners over the past 36 years, has Wong Choong Hann as their nominee. Choong Hann was a member of the Thomas Cup team who were the runners-up to Indonesia and the champion of the five-star China Open.
In the women's category, there are 11 nominations and the frontrunners for the award are bowler Shalin Zulkifli, lawn bowls' Siti Zalina Ahmad and karate's S. Premila.
Shalin has won the award four times – in 1994, 1996, 1997 and last year.
Her successes last year included gold medals in the Asian Games. She was the singles champions in the Malaysian Open and won the masters title in the OPen tournaments in Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea. She also won the gold medal in the team event at the Asian Championships.
Siti Zalina was a winner in the Manchester Commonwealth Games and Asian Championships. Her efforts won her the 2002 Olympian of the Year Award.
Premila also won a gold medal in the Asian Games and she was the first Malaysian to win a medal in the World Cup – a bronze in Open kumite. She also took part in the Indonesian Open and won the gold medal in the 60kg category and team event.
The other awards to be presented tonight are for men's and women's teams and those for leaderships, special and “Tokoh Sukan”.