National bowler Rafiq Ismail and rhythmic gymnast Amy Kwan Dict Weng were respectively crowned the National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year at the National Sports Awards (Anugerah Sukan Negara) on Tuesday.
For Rafiq, it was his first win out of five times of being shortlisted as he became the third male bowler to win the award after J.B. Khoo in 1979 and Michael Chuah in 1984.
The 22-year-old won the prestigious award based on his outstanding achievement last year, including ending the country’s 39-year drought at the Men’s Bowling World Cup Championships by winning gold in the singles event in Hong Kong.
The Kuala Lumpur-born bowler, who also helped himself to the men’s Masters gold medal at the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games last year, defeated track cycling ace Azizulhasni Awang, squash player Nafiizwan Adnan, bodybuilder Syarul Azman Mahen and sailor Fauzi Kaman Shah to the coveted Sportsman award.
As for Kwan, her surprise gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia tilted the odds in her favour to be crowned National Sportswoman of the Year.
The 2018 Olympian of the Year bagged gold in the ribbon event before helping her team to a silver medal.
The 24-year-old, who also won bronze medals in the individual hoop and overall categories, warded off the challenges of Siti Zalina Ahmad (lawn bowls), Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman (bowling), S. Sivasangari (squash) and Tan Li Lian (bodybuilding) to claim the Sportswoman gong.
Rafiq and Amy each received a trophy, blazer, RM20,000 cash and two Malaysia Airlines tickets to Australia.
Meanwhile, 2015 winner Ridzuan Puzi and 2014 winner Siti Noor Iasah Ariffin bagged their second National Paralympic Sportsman and Sportswomen awards respectively.
Ridzuan created history when he became the first Malaysian to be crowned the Best Asian Para Athlete (Male) last year.
The winner of the 100m gold medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics also stole the show with a three-gold feat at the Asian Paralympics in Jakarta last October, which also saw him set a world record in the men’s 100m T36 event and Asiad record in the long jump.
The 32-year-old’s time of 11.87s in the blue riband event erased the previous world mark of 11.90s set by Russia's Evgenii Shvetcov at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon, France.
Ridzuan, who trains under coach R. Jaganathan, also broke the Asian Games long jump record when he leapt 5.59m to obliterate the old mark of 5.45m set by China’s Yang Yi Fei in 2016.
Siti Noor Iasah captured the women’s 400m T20 (intellectual impairment) gold medal at the Asian Paralympics as well as bettered the Games record set by Japan’s Mai Iwakiri in Incheon, South Korea in 2014.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, were also present to grace the glittering ceremony.
ROLL OF HONOUR
National Sportsman - Rafiq Ismail
National Sportswoman - Amy Kwan Dict Weng
National Paralympic Sportsman - Ridzuan Puzi
National Paralympic Sportswoman - Siti Noor Iasah Ariffin
National Men’s Team - Bowling (Adrian Ang, Tun Ameerul Luqman Al Hakeem Datuk Tun Hasnul Azam)
National Women’s Team - Diving (Cheong Jun Hoong, Pandelela Rinong)
National Men’s Coach - Holloway Cheah (Bowling)
Sports Leadership Award - Datuk Sieh Kok Chi, Dr S. Radha Krishnan (Malaysian Blind Sports Association)
Special Award - Hanifah Yoong Yin Fah (Water ski), Datuk Rahim Razali