KUALA LUMPUR: As expected, track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang (pic) and diver Cheong Jun Hoong were crowned as the Best Sportsman and Sportswoman for 2017.
They received the awards from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V yesterday.
It was the third time for Azizulhasni while it was Jun Hoong’s first.
Azizulhasni, 30, who created history by becoming Malaysia’s first ever keirin world champion at the Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong last April, was announced as the winner at the National Sports Award ceremony. He won back-to-back awards in 2009 and 2010.
The others nominated were Syarul Azman Mahen Abdullah (bodybuilding), Hakimi Ismail (triple jump, athletics), Gavin Kyle Green (golfer), Fitri Saari (hockey), Rafiq Ismail (tenpin bowling), Wong Weng Son (wushu) and Khairul Hafiz Jantan (sprinter, athletics).
Syahrul and Weng Son were also world champions in their respective sports but Azizulhasni’s achievement of taking the world title in an Olympic discipline had the winning edge.
A delighted Azizulhasni, who becomes the only cyclist to win the award three times, is hoping this will be just what he needs to kickstart his season following a disappointing start to the year.
“Nothing comes without sacrifice and it’s a big honour to win it for cycling,” said Azizulhasni who was floored by a viral infection in his title defence at the world meet in Holland earlier this month.
“I have to thank my family as they are the backbone to my success.
“I also want to thank my coach John (Beasley) and those who have supported me throughout the good and bad times.
“I certainly do hope that this will motivate me to try harder for another nomination.
“And I do pray that I will do well at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games (in Jakarta in August) which are my main goals after this.”
Meanwhile, diver Jun Hoong also achieved a milestone with her first win.
The 27-year-old, who was nominated for only the second time, took the top award on the back of her historic feat of winning the 10m platform title at the World Aquatic Championships last year.
She became only the second diver after Pandelela Rinong, who won in 2011, 2012 and 2015, to take the top award.
The other women nominated were Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman (tenpin bowling), S. Sivasangari (squash), Koi Sie Yan (rhythmic gymnastics), Fatehah Mustapa (cycling) and Emma Firyani Saroji (lawn bowls).
Other awards saw Ziyad Zolkefli claim the Best Male Paralympian while the men’s hockey team took the Men’s Team of the Year.
The Sportsman and Sportswoman award winners received RM20,000, a trophy and a certificate each.