PETALING JAYA: Paralympic sprinter Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Puzi is a man of few words, preferring to let his action speak for itself.
And that’s exactly what he did by living up to his nickname – “Mr Dash”.
The 29-year-old, who has been suffering from cerebral palsy since he was one, did not let a false start affect his nerves as he sprinted to the nation’s first-ever gold medal in Paralympic history.
Ridzuan, the reigning world champion from Doha, Qatar, last year, came from behind to overtake China’s Yang Yifei to win the 100m dash in a new Games record of 12.07.
The previous Paralympic record of 12.25 was set by Ukraine’s Roman Pavlyk at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
The Ukrainian, a bronze medallist in London four years ago, lined up beside Ridzuan but was disqualified for a false start in the final.
Ridzuan later ran to the stands to hug his coach R. Jeganathan before turning to the small crowd of Malaysian supports to acknowledge their applause for his historic feat.
“I’m so happy I’m bringing back the gold medal,” said Ridzuan.
“This is not the fastest I’ve ran. I did 12.01 when I won the world title in Doha last year.”
Yifei, the top ranked sprinter in this category this year, settled for silver in 12.20 while Brazilian Rodrigo Parreira da Silva took bronze in 12.54.
Ridzuan, who is from Padang Besar, Perlis, has now become an instant millionaire as the Paralympic gold is worth RM1mil under the National Sports Council (NSC) incentive scheme.
He will also get a RM5,000 monthly allowance for his golden feat.