The former “Iron Lady of Athletics” Zaiton Othman walked away with the Women and Sport Award, 2009, at a glittering Awards Dinner organized by the Olympic Council of Malaysia at the Wisma OCM Indoor Sports Complex last night.
There were also five other awards given to persons who had in various ways advanced the cause of women in sports.
The Award is made annually to any individual or group that has made outstanding and significant contribution to the promotion, development and advancement of women in any sport or sport related activity.
This is part of the ’s efforts to promote gender equity in sport.
Malaysian efforts have had limited success women athlete participation in Olympic Games, and Commonwealth Games has been steadily increasing and we have produced a few women world beaters like , Siti Zalina, and .
“However, we have not been very successful in our efforts to produce women leaders and decision-makers like coaches, technical officials, administrators, managers and sports scientists. Obviously, this has to be our next focus”, said the OCM President, Tunku Tan Sri Imran, in his welcome address.
Since the OCM Women and Sport Committee started organizing these awards in 2003, 22 persons have been given these awards. Winners include coaches, presidents and secretaries of sports association and even sports journalists.
Zaiton, the former heptathlete who dominated the event for more than a decade in the SEA region, was judged the winner for her untiring effort to increase women participation in sport and assisting them to pursue excellence.
A trained physical educationist and sports psychologist, Zaiton is a full time sports officer with the National Sports Council and is currently the Director for Athletes Welfare. Young athletes consider her an inspiring role model and often go to her for counseling and guidance.
Faridah Osman, the archery coach in Kuala Selangor, who has been producing successful athletes at MSSM, Selangor State, SUKMA and National Junior levels received the Woman and Sport Award for Grassroot Development while YM Tunku Dara Tunku Tan Sri Naquiah binti Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar, who has been the President of the Women’s Football Association for 40 years and President of the Malaysian Women’s Football Association for 14 years received the Women and Sport Leadership Award.
Parents of two world champions, also received recognition for the support and guidance that they gave their daughters who wanted to pursue sport excellence.
Ann-Marie and Desmond David, parents of world squash champion Nicol David and Faudziah Mokhtar and Abdul Rahman, parents of Tenpin Bowling sensation Siti Safiyah received the Women and Sport Partnership Awards.
“For women in Malaysia, excelling in sport is a very stressful undertaking with a lot of challenges and obstacles to overcome – hardly can any woman become a world champion without parental support,” said Zaiton Othman.