After narrowly missing out on last year’s top prize, world squash queen Datuk Nicol Ann David will be gunning for her second Athlete of the Year title in the SAM-100PLUS Awards which will be held tomorrow.
Nicol, who wrapped up her eighth World Crown in commanding fashion last year, is the front runner for the top award even though she will once again be up in contention with sleek bodybuilder Sazali Samad.
Both athletes were gunning for the main prize last year but the accolade went to the multiple-winning Sazali, who incidentally picked up his tenth Mr Universe crown recently.
But the Penang-born Nicol seems to have the advantage over her rivals this time round in what has been a fantastic year for the Amsterdam-based athlete.
Other than maintaining her status as the world No. 1 alongside her world title, Nicol also picked up the British Open crown and also the Hong Kong Open championship.
She also delivered the gold in both the individual and team event at the Asian Games in Incheon.
“Like in previous editions, it has been tough to select the shortlist of nominees,” said SAM President, Ahmad Khawari Isa. “There are a lot of factors which were taken into account to select these athletes.
“But now it is up to the members of SAM to choose whom they think have made the biggest impact in Malaysian sports last year.”
However, the race for the top award will not be just a two-way battle as motorsports’ Zaqhwan Zaidi have also thrown his name into the hat for consideration.
The two-wheel ace had a breakthrough season in 2014 when he emerged as the overall champion at the PETRONAS FIM Asia Road Racing 600cc SuperSport Championship.
And at 19-years-old, Zaqhwan was the youngest ever winner of the premier event.
The two other candidates who have been selected for the top award at this year’s SAM-100PLUS Awards 2014 are weightlifter Mohd Hafifi Mansor and also karate-do Lim Chee Wei.
Mohd Hafifi picked up gold at the Commonwealth Games while Chee Wei did the nation proud at the Asian Games in South Korea.
Despite it being only his first foray at the Asian Games, Chee Wei surprised the field when he won gold in the men’s kata.
At stake as the Best Athlete for 2014 will not only be the due recognition from peers and the media alike but also the prize money of RM10,000.
SAM members will also be recognized at the event in various categories and they are for: (1) best news report – print, (2) commentary – print, (3) best news report – electronic, (4) commentary (electronic), (5) special report – print & electronic and (6) best photography.
The Overall Award (Anugerah Utama) winner is picked from the six categories and will pocket RM7,000.