And the Malaysian National Sportsman of the Year 2016 award goes to…
A giant leap
The 2016 National Sportsman of the Year went to Rio Paralympics gold medallist Abdul Latif Romly, becoming the first parathlete to win the award, whereas silat exponent Siti Rahmah Mohamed Nasir won National Sportswoman.
Abdul Latif was competing for the award against quite a strong pool of nominees which comprised of Rio Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei (badminton), Rio Olympic bronze medallist Azizulhasni Awang (cycling), world champion Syarul Azman Mike Mahen (bodybuilding), Rafiq Ismail (bowling) and 2015 winner Mohd Al-Jufferi Jamari (silat).
While the 20-year-old was surprised with his win, many might disagree since he did break the world record three times on his way to bagging a gold medal for Malaysia in the T20 (learning disability) men's long jump at the Rio Paralympics. He currently holds the world record of 7.60m.
"No one knew me before the Rio Games. Today everyone knows me. This award will inspire other paralympians and show the world we are at par with able-bodied athletes. The win also makes me more determined to contribute more gold in the 2020 Paralympics," he said.
There was some tough competition for the National Sportswoman award as well as Siti Rahmah beat 2015 winner Pandelela Rinong (diving), world champion Lilian Tan (bodybuilding), Sin Li Jane (bowling) and Siti Zalina Ahmad (lawn bowls).
The 30-year-old had a perfect season last year, having won all four competitions she participated in which included the World Championships in Bali.
Both Abdul Latif and Siti Rahmah received RM20,000, a trophy and a certificate each.The awards were presented by the newly-installed Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V at the ceremony yesterday.
National Sports Awards 2016 winners
National Sportsman: Abdul Latif Romly (Athletics - Paralympic)
National Sportswoman: Siti Rahmah Mohamed Nasir (Silat)
National Paralympic Sportsman: None
National Paralympic Sportswoman: Siti Noor Radiah Ismail (Athletics - Paralympics)
National Team (Men's): Tan Wee Kiong/Goh V Shem (Badminton)
National Team (Women's): Pandelela Rinong/Cheong Jun Hoong (Diving)
National Coach (Male): R. Jaganathan (Athletics - Paralympic)
National Coach (Female): Chin Eei Hui (Badminton)