Ahmad Faizal orders National Sports Council to probe Ziyad gold medal withdrawal

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The National Sports Council has been ordered to investigate and obtain an initial report on the withdrawal of the gold medal from national shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu (pic) said he also ordered the council and the Malaysian Paralympic Council to set up a committee to look into the incident as a whole.

He said the committee would be asked to provide an action plan now that the official protest and appeals had been done. It is to also come up with an approach to address such an incident if it recurs.

“I also wish to urge everyone against pointing fingers at anyone in this matter.

“But most importantly, all parties including IPC (International Paralympic Committee) and World Para Athletics (WPA) must look again at all regulations including those requiring wisdom in managing them,” he said in a statement on Wednesday (Sept 1).

Ahmad Faizal also gave his assurance that Ziyad would still be welcomed as a national hero upon his arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Friday (Sept 3).

He said however that his ministry viewed the incident seriously and regretted the procedure of the organising committee especially the WPA and IPC in considering the circumstances, besides the aspiration and spirit in organising the Paralympics.

“We are disappointed because in our utter faithfulness in standing behind IPC to support the games which are conducted in a life-threatening condition to our athletes, a slight delay, if it actually took place, was not given appropriate consideration.

“What’s more, the athletes have waited for five years but their hopes and spirits were destroyed by a delay of not even five minutes... this is something which is very sad,” he added.

The World Para Athletics (WPA) rejected Malaysia’s appeal to reverse the result of the men’s shot putt F20 event at the Tokyo Paralympics, afther national athlete Ziyad Zolkefli broke his own world record three times and would have won the gold but was classified as Did Not Start (DNS) due to a protest lodged against him by Ukraine.

Similar protests were also lodged against athletes from Australia and Ecuador who were classified as DNS.

WPA in a statement stated that they also rejected the appeals made by athletes from Australia and Ecuador.

They said the decision was based on World Para Athletics Rule 5.5 – ‘Failure to Report to the Call Room’ which stated that in case athletes are not present in the call room at the relevant time as published in the Call Room schedule they will be shown in the results as DNS (Did Not Start).

Despite the teams given the opportunity to present all relevant information before making its final decision, WPA further explained that the Jury of Appeal eventually upheld the referee’s decision and confirmed the results as DNS.

The 31-year-old athlete thought he had managed to defend his gold medal from the 2016 Rio Paralympics when he hurled the shot putt to a distance of 17.31m with his very first attempt to break his previous world mark of 17.29m set at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London.

Then, in his third attempt, he threw it even further to 17.94m to leave his rivals trailing in his wake.

But disaster struck as he was later disqualified. Ukraine’s Maksym Koval was announced as the gold medallist with a throw of 17.34m.

Another Ukrainian Oleksandr Yarovyi took silver with a throw of 17.30m while Greece’s Efstratios Nikolaidis (15.93m) settled for bronze.- Bernama

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