KUALA LUMPUR: It was a memorable day for world No. 1 men’s singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei and coach Misbun Sidek when they bagged the top prizes at the 2008 National Sports Award ceremony here yesterday.
The 28-year-old Chong Wei was named as the best sportsman while Misbun lifted the best male coach award.
Chong Wei, however, was not present at the award ceremony and his father, Lee Ah Chai, received the trophy and RM10,000 on his behalf from the King.
Chong Wei is in Hyderabad for the Indian Open beginning tomorrow and he is aiming to win his first back-to-back title outside of Malaysia. He scored a sensational win over Lin Dan of China last week to win the Swiss Open title.
The other nominees who Chong Wei beat to the award yesterday were Mohd Azizul Hasni Awang (cycling), Zulmazran Zulkifli (bowling), Safuan Said (lawn bowls), Cheng Chu Sian (archery) and Lee Hup Wei (athletics). His outstanding run last year included a silver medal-winning effort at the Beijing Olympics in August.
It was the second time Chong Wei won the national award after 2005.
“It’s nice to win the award again. This time, it is more special because my coach is also one of the winners,” said Chong Wei in a telephone interview from Hyderabad.
“This will spur me to achieve more good results for Malaysia in badminton. My main goal this year is the world championships (in India from Aug 11-16).”
Malaysia have not won a title in the world championships series.
For Misbun, it was also the second time that he won a national award. He won a special award for Mohd Hafiz Hashim’s success in winning the All-England title in 2003.
“It feels good to be appreciated but this award is a collective effort of many parties. I want to thank the association, the NSC (National Sports Council), the NSI (National Sports Institute), and, especially, the athlete. This award represents all their hard work,” said Misbun, who received RM5,000 and a trophy.
“I am sincere in what I am doing. I will continue to do what I love and try to deliver what the association and the country want — a constant world beater in badminton.”
It was double joy too for squash at the award ceremony.
World No. 1 Nicol David took home her sixth sportswoman award for her amazing unbeaten run last year. She captured 10 titles, including claiming the World Open crown for the third time in four years.
The other nominees for the women’s award were Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty (badminton doubles), Fatehah Mustapa (cycling), Wendy Chai (bowling), Siti Zalina Ahmad (lawn bowls), Siow Yi Ting (swimming) and Chai Fong Yin (wushu).
Nicol and team-mates Sharon Wee, Delia Arnold and Low Wee Wern were named the best female team for winning the Asian Championships team title last year.
In the men’s team category, archers Cheng Chu Sian, Mohd Marbawi Sulaiman and Wan Mohd Khalmizam Wan Abdul Aziz were the winners. The trio qualified for the Beijing Olympics and shown marked improvement in the sport.
The late Datuk Ho Ko Chye was also honoured with the best leadership award for his contribution to sports over three decades.
Two dedicated sports officials Nellan Vellasamy and Petrina Low received special awards for their efforts in promoting golf and gymnastics respectively.