PETALING JAYA: Rio Olympic bronze medallist Azizulhasni Awang heads the nominees list for the Best Athlete for 2019 in the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia-100PLUS Awards to take place on Sept 1 at the Academy Badminton Malaysia auditorium.
The 32-year-old track cyclist also beat former world champions Shane Perkins and Matthew Glaetzer – both Australians – to climb on top of the podium in keirin at the Track World Cup series in Cambridge, New Zealand in December last year.
Terengganu-born Azizul, who is in line for his third award having won in 2009 and 2017, also secured a career milestone in October by retaining his sprint title at the Asian Cycling Championships in South Korea.
It was his 10th Asian championships gold medal and a stunning comeback after injuring his finger in a freak training injury a month earlier.
Azizul, who is based in Melbourne, is also a medal prospect in his fourth Olympic appearance in Tokyo next year.
Young shuttler S. Kisona also made it to the nominees list after she beat Indonesia’s Ruselli Hartawan to retain the women’s singles gold medal for Malaysia at the Philippines SEA Games last year.
Kisona was only named to the SEA Games squad after Goh Jin Wei had to withdraw following a surgery. Interestingly, Jin Wei won the women’s singles gold medal when Malaysia hosted the SEA Games in 2017.
Kisona repaid the faith the coaches had in her by disposing of Indonesian Gregoria Mariska Tanjung and Nitchaon Jindapol of Thailand in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
Also nominated with strong credentials is gymnast Farah Ann Hadi, who wowed with a three-gold performance at the SEA Games in Manila – winning the individual all-around, uneven bars and floor exercise.
She also qualified for the Olympics for the first time through the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart after narrowly missing out in Rio de Janeiro back in 2016.
Farah is only the third Malaysian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics after Au Li Yen (Sydney 2000) and Ng Shu Wai (Athens 2004).
Completing the list of nominees are ice skater Julian Yee and wushu exponent Loh Choon How.
Julian retained his SEA Games free skating gold medal while Choon How contributed two gold medals for the Malaysian contingent in men’s taijiquan and taijijian events.
This year’s awards will see a scaled down version restricted to only 120 participants. Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican will give away the prizes.
1995: Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock (badminton)
1996: Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock (badminton)
1997: Nurul Huda Baharin (shooting)
1998: Lim Keng Liat (swimming)
2002: Lim Keng Liat (swimming) and S. Premila (karate)
2003: Lim Keng Liat (swimming)
2004: Bryan Nikson Lomas (diving)
2005: Nicol Ann David (squash)
2006: Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (badminton)
2007: Wong Mew Choo (badminton)
2008: Lee Chong Wei (badminton)
2009: Azizul Hasni Awang (cycling)
2010: Pandelela Rinong (diving)
2011: Nur Suryani Taibi (shooting)
2012: Pandelela Rinong (diving)
2013: Sazali Samad (bodybuilding)
2014: Nicol Ann David (squash)
2015: Pandelela Rinong (diving)
2016: Lee Chong Wei (badminton)
2017: Azizul Hasni Awang (cycling)
2018: Rafiq Ismail (bowling)