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KUCHING, Feb 1: Sarawak’s diving queen Dato Pandelela Rinong Pamg was crowned the National Sportswoman for the fourth time, while powerlifting world record holder Bonnie Bunyau Gustin was named the National Paralympic Sportsman during the 2021 National Sports Award ceremony held at the National Sports Council (NSC) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday (Jan 31).
According to a news report on TVS, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim presented the awards to the winners in the presence of Minister of Youth and Sports Hannah Yeoh, her deputy Adam Adli Abd Halim and NSC director-general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail at the glittering ceremony.
In a congratulatory message posted on his social media yesterday, Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian thanked Pandelela and Bonnie for their determination and hardwork.
“(They) bring glory to Malaysia and Sarawak. We are so proud of you,” he added.
Pandelela was also the award winner in 2011, 2012 and 2015. The two-time Olympic medallist claimed the 2021 National Sportswoman award for her achievement in winning the gold medal in the individual 10m platform at the 2021 World Diving Championships in Japan.
She edged out other nominees namely squash players Rachel Arnold and Aifa Azman, Meilaura Dora Jimmy (bodybuilding) and Nur Amisha Azrilrizal (Muaythai).
Track cyclist Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang, aka ‘The Pocket Rocketman’, made Malaysian sports history when he was crowned as the 2021 National Sportsman for the fifth time, making him the male athlete with the most national athletes titles following his win in 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2019/2020.
The 35-year-old’s achievement surpassed national badminton legends Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Datuk Rashid Sidek as well as former national bodybuilding champion Sazali Samad, who have all won the award four times respectively.
Mohd Azizulhasni’s outstanding achievements in 2021 include winning a silver medal in the men’s keirin event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as well as winning the Sprint event at the Elite Victoria Track Cycling Championships and a silver in the keirin event at the 2021 Victoria Championships in Australia.
Meanwhile, it was only deserving for Bonnie who created history by becoming the first Malaysian to win a Paralympic gold medal while breaking the world record at the Tokyo Paralympic Games to be crowned the 2021 National Paralympic Sportsman winner.
On the other hand, swimmer Brenda Anellia Larry was named the National Paralympic Sportswoman.
The Sportsman, Sportswoman, Paralympic Sportsman, Paralympic Sportwoman awards winners received RM20,000 each, a trophy and certificates, respectively.
The prestigious award, which was introduced in 1966, is the highest recognition to appreciate the excellent achievements by athletes, coaches, officials and national sports associations throughout the year.
The full list of award recipients for 2021 National Sports Award:
- National Sportsman – Datuk Mohd Azizulhasni Awang (cycling)
- National Sportswoman – Datuk Pandelela Rinong Pamg (diving)
- National Paralympics Sportsman – Bonnie Bunyau Gustin (powerlifting)
- National Paralympics Sportswoman – Brenda Anellia Larry (swimming)
- Best Men’s Team: Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (badminton)
- Best Women’s Team: Natasha Mohamed Roslan, Faten Najihah Ahmad Faik, Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman, Nur Syazwani Sahar (bowling)
- Best Men’s Coach – Jamil Adam (powerlifting)
- Best Women’s Coach – Wendy Chai De-Choo (bowling)
- Sports Icon Award – Datuk Norminshah Sabirin
- Sports Leadership Award – Huang Ying How
- Special Awards – Mohd Zaki Abd Rahman, Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh, Chan Foong Keong