Kien Keat and Boon Heong take Sportsman of the Year award


KUALA LUMPUR: It was double joy for world number one Nicol David when she was named as the 2007 Sportswoman of the Year at the national awards ceremony at the Palace of Golden Horses Hotel in Seri Kembangan last night.

After claiming a third British Open title in Liverpool on Sunday, Nicol learned she had won a fifth national award to join the likes of bowler Shalin Zulkifli and former swimmer Nurul Huda Abdullah. Nicol was also the winner for the 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2006 awards.

As expected, the men’s doubles badminton pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong took the Sportsman of the Year award.

Despite failing to retain her World Open title in Madrid last year, Nicol still enjoyed an outstanding season with nine international titles.

The fact that she also managed to keep her world number one spot throughout the year also got her the nod over shuttler Wong Mew Choo, swimmer Khoo Cai Lin, wushu exponent Chai Fong Ying and Shalin.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong in their first full season out as a pair won four Super Series titles – the Malaysian, All-England, Swiss and Denmark Opens. They also claimed two other internationals – the Open tournaments in the Philippines and Macau.

The duo, who are currently in Jakarta for the Thomas Cup Finals, were strongly tipped to win the 2006 award after claiming the first Asian Games badminton gold medal for Malaysia in 36 years. But bodybuilder Sazali Samad won it on the strength of winning the world title for the third time.

Seven-time SEA Games karate champion P. Arivalagan followed in the footsteps of his father, T. Ponniyah, taking the Best Male Coach Award.

Arivalagan steered the national kumite team to their best-ever finish in the Asian Championships in Nilai last year. The team bagged four gold medals and went on to delivered six of the eight gold medals in SEA Games karate in Korat last December.

“My father has won it before (in 2002). I am proud to be named the winner too. Personally, it’s a big achievement for karate and I dedicate it to the entire national team.

“It is only their contributions that made this possible for me and it is a tonic for me to work harder,” he said.

The men's recurve archery trio of Cheng Chu Sian, Mohd Marbawi Sulaiman and Wan Mohd Khalmizan Wan Aziz were named the Best Male Team for their silver-medal finishes in the Asian Championships in Xian and the Olympic Test Event in Beijing last year.

Last year also saw the trio earn qualification to the Beijing Olympics.

The women’s bowling team of Shalin, Sharon Koh, Wendy Chai, Zandra Aziela, Choy Poh Lai and Esther Cheah won the Best Female Team award for emerging as champions in the World Championships in Mexico last September.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah presented the awards at the ceremony last night.



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