PETALING JAYA: Bowler Muhammad Rafiq Ismail and para athlete Mohamad Ridzuan Puzi walked away with the top honours at the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM)-100PLUS awards.
Rafiq was named Best Athlete while Ridzuan picked up the Best Paralympian gong.
Both received a trophy and RM10,000 cash prize from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah at a hotel here last night.
The awards night, which also celebrated SAM’s 50th anniversary, was also graced by the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
SAM also presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to their royal patron Sultan Ahmad Shah for his contributions to sports, especially football.
The award was presented to the King in his father’s absence.
Rafiq picked up the award ahead of track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang, divers Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong, gymnast Amy Kwan Dict Weng and silat exponent Mohamad Hazim Amzad.
The 22-year-old Rafiq enjoyed a memorable 2018 by winning the men’s singles gold medal at the World Bowling Championship in Hong Kong, becoming the first Malaysian to achieve the accolade in 39 years.
The Selangor-born Rafiq also had a sensational outing at the 2018 Indonesia Asian Games, winning the gold and silver medals in the Masters and men’s trio event.
He also emerged the national champion for the second time after first winning it in 2015.
“I’m grateful for this award. The other candidates are among the top athletes in the country and the world, so it’s really an honour to win. It’s an honour to receive the award from the King. This is a moment that I cherish forever,” said Rafiq.
Meanwhile, Ridzuan earned the Best Paralympian Award for the second time since 2016.
The Perlis lad was a smash hit at the 2018 Asian Para Games when he broke the world record in the men’s 100m T36 (cerebral palsy) and the Asian Games record in long jump en route to winning a total of three gold medals.
The 31-year-old also picked up the 100PLUS Fan Choice award.