‘Youth icons’ given due recognition

KUCHING: Fifteen youths in the state yesterday received the inaugural Sarawak Youth and Sports Icon Award (Anugerah Ikon Belia dan Sukan Negeri Sarawak) for theiroutstanding achievements.

The youths who are sports champions, high academic achievers and successful entertainment artistes, were presented the Award by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, and Minister of Social Development and Urbanisation Dato Sri William Mawan Ikom at Pullman Hotel here.

The accolade came with a cash award of RM2,000, a trophy and a certificate in recognition of the recipients’ success in putting Sarawak and Malaysia on the world map and becoming role models to the youths in the country.

The awardees were Pandelela Rinong Pamg (diver), Bryan Nickson Lomas (diver), Daniel Bego (swimmer), Watson Nyambek (athletics), Bibiana Ng (shooting), Azlan Iskandar (squash), Sapok Biki (boxing), Diana Bong (wushu), Loh Jack Chang (wushu), Jironi Riduan (athletics), Gladys Tan Yee Kim (10As in SPM 2009), Dayang Nurfaizah (singer), Hafiz Suip (Akademi Fantasia 7) and paralympians Yusup Dewa (swimming) and FatimahWagimin (weightlifting).

“Icon is more than just a name. It’s a name to be remembered and will not just fade away overnight,” Ahmad Shabery said in his address to the hundreds of youths gathered to witness the event.

The Award, he added, is one way for the federal and state governments to appreciate and recognise the contributions and achievements of the youths from Sarawak.

He described Sapok Biki who won Malaysia’s first Commonwealth Games boxing gold medal in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, and Watson Nyambek, dubbed the Flying Dayak and is still holder of the national 100m record (10.30s – the old record of 10.46s was held by Dr M Jegathesan) as true icons as they have remained household names even though it was more than 10 years ago that they set their records.

“We cannot become icons if we have not reached that standard. This Award is a start to accord recognition especially to Sarawak’s athletes who have created sports history in Malaysia and on the world stage. They are doing it for Sarawak and the country,” Ahmad Shabery said. He also mentioned the younger generation of athletes like Pandelela who won Malaysia’s first Commonwealth Games diving gold medal in the New Delhi, and Azlan Iskandar who bagged the squash gold medal in the Asian Games in Guangzhou.

“Their achievements reflect their sacrifices which are beyond many people. But a Sarawakian can do it,” he said to thunderous applause from the youths present.

He assured the Youth and Sports Ministry would organise a similar event next year, saying further discussions would be held to add more aspects of youth achievements to the programme besides the annual awards during ‘Hari Belia’. In his address, Mawan who represented the Chief Minister, said Sarawak, Sabah and the West Malaysian states all had potential athletes.

“The key question is how to tap and develop this potential.”

He added that the Youth and Sports Icon Award was an important event as it enabled youths in the state to know that the government was playing an instrumental role in their success.

“I believe after today, more young people will step up and hold more youth forums,” Mawan said, adding that youths were important as the drive force for the future development of the nation.

He hoped the Youth and Sports Icon Award would be held on a bigger scale in the future, focusing more on the needs of the youths in order to attract more participants.

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