The achievement of powerlifter Bonnie Anak Bunyau has powered him to the shortlist of four athletes in the run for this year’s Best Para Athlete award in the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM)-100PLUS 2019 Awards which will be held on 1 September 2020 at the Malaysia Badminton Academy (ABM) Auditorium in Bukit Kiara.
At the tender age of just 15-years-old, the Sarawak-born Bonnie put behind multiple adversary behind him as he pushed through barriers to become one of the best athletes in his discipline in the world.
And the date 15 July 2019 would be Bonnie’s proudest moment yet as the then 20-year-old climbed to the top of the podium twice as a double champion at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan.
The first gold medal came through the Youth category for the 65kg and below before Bonnie then surprised the world class field that also included world champion Paul Kehinde to lift 207kg in the same weight division to be crowned champion.
Faisal Jamal, the organising chairman of the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM)-100PLUS 2019 Awards, hopes that the nomination of Bonnie and the three other candidates will be a catalyst for all para-athletes to aim higher in their respective disciplines.
“With the achievements that have been made by our para athletes, we hope that their hard work alongside the support from the Malaysian Paralympic Council (MPM), it will produce more athletes to make the cut for the Paralympic Games next year,” he said.
Bonnie will be up against two para-athletes from the sport of archery – S. Suresh and Wiro Julin – as well as seasoned campaigner Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli from the sport of javelin, who had taken the title before in 2017.
Suresh is the country’s recurve archer with the best achievement from the 26-year-old was the gold medal he won at the 2019 World Archery Championships in Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands in June 2019.
His top of the podium finish was his second in two months after having taken the crown at the Fazza World Archery Championship which took place in Dubai earlier in May.
That triumph gave Suresh a worthy slot for the Paralympic Games next year in Tokyo – where he will be joined fellow shortlisted candidate Wiro Julin.
Even though Wiro is considered as still a newbie in the sport of archery, he has proven to be a diamond in the rough after taking the runners-up spot in the compound event at the Asian Para Archery Championships in Bangkok, Thailand in October 2019.
And javelin thrower Mohd Ziyad has also thrown in his name for consideration as the Best Para-Athlete 2019 when he won the silver medal at the 30th SEA Games in Manila, Philippines.
The winner of the Best Para-Athlete Award 2019 will receive a cash prize of RM 10,000 and a trophy.
SAM introduced the Best Para-Athlete Award in 2016 which was won by sprinter Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Puzi.
The event this year will be attended by Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, the Minister of Youth and Sports.
In addition to giving recognition to athletes, sports journalists will also receive acknowledgments where they stand to win total cash prize of more than RM50,000.
The awards are divided into six categories – Best News Report (Print Media), Best News Report (Electronic Media), Best News Review (Print Media), Best News Review (Electronic Media), Special Report (Open) and Best Sports Photography.
The overall best winner in the sports journalism category will be crowned the recipient of the Siebel Award with a cash prize of RM7,000 and a trophy.
PREVIOUS WINNERS – ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
1995 – Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock (Badminton)
1996 – Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock (Badminton)
1997 – Nurul Huda Baharin (Shooting)
1998 – Lim KengLiat (Swimming)
1999-2001 – No Award
2002 – Lim Keng Liat (Swimming) and S.Premila (Karate-do)
2003 – Lim Keng Liat (Swimming)
2004 – Bryan Nikson Lomas (Diving)
2005 – Nicol Ann David (Squash)
2006 – Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (Badminton)
2007 – Wong Mew Choo (Badminton)
2008 – Lee Chong Wei (Badminton)
2009 – Mohd Azizul Hasni Awang (Cyling)
2010 – Pandelela Rinong (Diving)
2011 – Nur Suryani Taibi (Shooting)
2012 – Pandelela Rinong (Diving)
2013 – Sazali Samad (Bodybuilding)
2014 – Nicol Ann David (Squash)
2015 – Pandelela Rinong (Diving)
2016 – Lee Chong Wei (Badminton)
2017 – Mohd Azizul Hasni Awang (Cyling)
2018 – Muhammad Rafiq Ismail (Tenpin Bowling)
PREVIOUS WINNERS – PARA-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
2016 – Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Puzi (Athletics – T36 classification sprint)
2017 – Muhd Ziyad Zolkefli (Athletics – T20 classification shot putt)
2018 – Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Puzi (Athletics – T36 classification sprint)