KUALA LUMPUR: Para athlete Ziyad Zolkefli has justified his place in the SEA Games squad with a superb performance in the Thailand Open Track and Field Championships in Bangkok.
The 27-year-old surprised the able-bodied athletes at the Thammasat University Sports Complex by achieving a personal best of 17.06m in the men’s shot putt to win the gold medal yesterday.
He improved his personal best by 22cm in the fifth throw, improving on his previous best of 16.84m, which he set en route to breaking the world record and winning the gold in the Rio Paralympics last September.
His effort yesterday was also better than the silver medal-winning mark of 17.05m set by Thailand’s Chatchawal Poliyam in the Singapore SEA Games in 2015.
Malaysia’s top shot putter Adi Alifuddin Hussin, who holds the national record of 17.54m, finished a disappointing fourth with a throw of 15.96m.
Ziyad was delighted with his efforts.
“It feels great to achieve a personal best and win gold against able-bodied athletes in the meet.
“I not only justified my place in the SEA Games squad but I have also proven that I can win a medal at the Games,” Ziyad said in a telephone interview from Bangkok yesterday.
Malaysia also won three silvers on the second day of the Thailand Open.
Muhd Khairul Harith Harun clocked 1’38:35 to finish second in men’s 20,000m walk.
The 25-year-old from Kelantan, however, was not pleased with his performance as his time was more than nine minutes slower than his personal best of 1’29:38, which he set at a competition in Spain last year.
“I need to buck up in training if I hope to win a medal in the SEA Games,” said Khairul, who won bronze in the Singapore Games.
Lee Yong Quek bagged the second silver in men’s 400m hurdles in 52.84 before Nurul Faizah Asma Mazlan added the third in women’s 400m hurdles in 1:02.65.
Sprinter Khairul Hafiz Jantan, who won the men’s 100m gold on Monday, is among four Malaysians who will be featuring in today’s 200m final. The others are G. Aravinn Thevarr, Mohd Adil Yasmin and Jonathan Nyepa.
Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli, who won the women’s 100m silver, has been disqualified from the 200m for a false start in the heats.