PETALING JAYA: Sprinter Nazmizan Mohamed and squash player Nicol David have added another feather to their caps.
Nazmizan claimed the 2003 Sportsman Award yesterday while Nicol was named the Sportswoman of the Year.
Nazmizan won the award for achieving a sprint double for Malaysia in the Vietnam SEA Games last December.
He beat five other candidates to the award – swimmer Lim Keng Liat, shuttler Wong Choong Hann, gymnasts Ng Shu Wai, bodybuilder Sazali Abdul Samad and bowler Azidi Ameran.
Nicol, who made a supreme effort to become the first Asian woman to get among the top 10 in the world rankings, was picked in favour of shuttler Wong Mew Choo, bowler Shalin Zulkifli, gymnasts Durratun Nasihin Rosli, walker Yuan Yufang and swimmer Siow Yi Ting.
The awards, which come with a RM10,000 purse each, were presented the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail, in a glittering ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel in Subang here last night.
Nicol was not present to receive the award. She is in the United States for the Texas Open. The Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia's president, Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir, received the award on her behalf.
Winning the award is a major boost for Nazmizan, who stunned the SEA Games fraternity with victories in the 100m (10.47) and 200m (21.05). It was the first time in 36 years that Malaysia won the sprint double in the biennial Games.
The Terengganu athlete, who was also crowned the 2003 Olympian of the Year, will be making attempts to qualify for the Athens Olympics in August. He will leave for the US tomorrow for an intensive training stint at a centre managed by former world 400m champion Michael Johnson.
The University Putra Malaysia student holds a personal best of 10.38 and to make the grade for the Olympics, he has to meet the qualifying mark of 10.28.
Nazmizan said that he did not expect his efforts in the SEA Games to bring him the award.
“I feel that there were other deserving candidates. This award is a special honour for my state and I,” he said.
“This award will spur me on to try harder to achieve my dream of running in the Olympics. I hope the stint in the US will help me achieve the target.”
For Nicol, it was the second time after 1999 that she was named the winner.
The SRAM secretary, Wong Ah Jit, said that that the award was recognition for the hard work that Nicol had put in to become a top squash player in the world.
“Nicol is the perfect role model for young athletes with her ability to achieve excellence at all levels,” said Ah Jit.
“She will be delighted to hear the news (of winning the Sportswoman award) and it will certainly make her work harder to break new grounds for Malaysia in squash.”
Nicol was a two-time world junior champion and the reigning Asian champion.
Shalin, who missed out on setting a record of wining the award for the sixth time, was still a winner last night.
She took the women's Team of the Year award together with Sarah Yap, Choy Poh Lai, Wendy Chai, Sharon Chai and Lai Kin Ngoh. The men's bowling team of Azidi Ameran, Zulmazran Zulkifli, Jonathan Lim, Alex Liew, Daniel Lim and Ben Heng were also winners.
Both the Malaysian men's and women's team emerged as the champions in the World Team Cup in Denmark in February last year.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was awarded the Tokoh Sukan for promoting sports in the country during his term in office. He is the second former Prime Minister to claim the award. The first was the late Tun Abdul Razak in 1988.
The leadershi[p award went to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary general, Datuk Peter Velappan.
Before moving to the AFC to serve as their secretary in 1978, Velappan was the assistant secretary of the FA of Malaysia for 16 years. He was also the manager and coach of the national and youth teams between 1963 and 1973.