SHOOTER Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi, whose two gold medals at the Indonesia Sea Games last year started a gold rush, was named the Sportswriters Association of Malaysia (SAM)-100Plus Athlete Of The Year 2011 in Petaling Jaya yesterday.
The 29-year-old Navy officer won the 50m rifle three-position and 10m air rifle events, which helped Malaysia seal a record breaking 59 gold medals in Jakarta and Palembang.
Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek presented the award to the shooter, who also won RM10,000.
"I honestly didn't expect to win this award as the other candidates were all very strong," said Nur Suryani.
"This is one of the best moments of my career and I will treasure the award."
The other athletes shortlisted were world squash champion Nicol David, World No 1 shuttler Lee Chong Wei, Fatehah Mustafa (cycling) and Jacqueline Jenelee (bowling).
Several other award winners were revealed earlier this week with Sea Games football champions, the Malaysian Under-23 football team, winning the "Out-Do Yourself" award.
World and Asian junior badminton champion Zulfadli Zulkifli was named "Best Young Athlete" while former Asian snooker champion Sam Chong and the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress (MTBC) earned the nod for the "Comeback Athlete"" and "Most Dynamic Association" awards respectively.
ROLL OF HONOUR -- Athlete of the Year: Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi (shooting) RM10,000; Young Athlete of the Year: Zulfadli Zulkifli (badminton) RM3,000; Out-Do Yourself: National Under-23 football team; Comeback Athlete of the Year: Sam Chong (snooker); Most Dynamic Sports Association: Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress.