PETALING JAYA: Gold medallist Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi may not be able to speak like others, but there was no mistaking his sheer joy on the other side of the phone.
In a long distance call to the paralympian, Mohamad Ridzuan could only mumble softly on the other side.
“I cannot explain my feelings...I am happy and thankful,” said the 29-year-old, who celebrates his birthday at the end of the month.
Mohamad Ridzuan was wide awake although it was 4.30am in Rio, fresh from his historic win in the T36 100m sprint (cerebral palsy) event, which brought Malaysia its first-ever gold medal in the Paralympic Games.
The paralympian added that he was eager to come home to be with his family and friends.
Before the event, Mohamad Ridzuan said he did not feel nervous or scared as he knew he could do it for Malaysia.
His come-from-behind sprint saw him crossing the finish line in 12.07 seconds, ahead of China’s Yang Yifei (12.20s) and Brazil’s Rodrigo Parreira da Silva (12.54s). It was also a Games record.
With this amazing feat, history was created. It did not stop there as two more gold medals were later collected in the shot putt and long jump events.
Last year, Mohamad Ridzuan won a gold at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli said he was slightly nervous at first but when his first throw broke the world record it boosted his confidence.
“I was afraid that semua tak jadi (everything won’t turn out well). I was trying my best to stay focussed and just do my best,” said the 26-year-old when contacted in Rio.
His dream came true when he broke the world record – not once but twice – during the shot putt F20 (learning disability) event.
Muhammad Ziyad’s fifth throw hit a distance of 16.84m, surpassing his earlier world record of 16.40m.
“I felt so proud and grateful to be able to do so well,” said the Gombak boy.
“Now, I just want to see my family and friends. I want to share my joy with them. They are my biggest fans who inspire me,” he added.
Asked whether he plans to spend his winnings on his wedding with fiancée Zafirah Nasir in November, Muhammad Ziyad said he already saved up enough since last year.
“No plans yet but I think I will take my parents to perform the umrah,” he said.
Long jumper Abdul Latif Romly was equally elated with his win.
The 19-year-old, who broke the world record three times in the men’s T20 long jump final, said at first, he was upset after being faulted on his first attempt.
“But I was more motivated after that. My coach told me to just relax and focus on the technique,” he said.
That was just what he needed to hear as Abdul Latif cleared 7.47m on his next try to break the previous world record of 7.37m set by Jose Exposito of Spain in 2003.
He then went on to break his own world mark with a 7.54m leap and then soared to 7.60m in his final jump.
“I am happy to have achieved my target,” said Abdul Latif.
He added that he would also support his parents to Mecca with his winnings.
His next aim is to do well at the next IPC Athletics World Championships.
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