Ashraf overcomes sorrow of losing left arm by excelling in athletics


  • Athletics
  • Tuesday, 14 Nov 2017

Leading the way: Malaysia’s Muhamad Ashraf Muhammad Haisham (front) competing in the men’s 1,500m T46 final at the Kuala Lumpur Asean Para Games in September. Inset: Ashraf posing with the gold medal.

MUHAMAD Ashraf Muhammad Haisham had high hopes of getting 5As in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations back in 2013.

Then, he was a Form Five student of SMK Batu 10 in Setiawan and he stayed at the school’s hostel.

He had lofty ambitions – to obtain a degree and get a good job to care for his family because he comes from a poor family.

His father, Muhammad Haisham Aziz, is a fisherman who earns just enough to feed his seven children in Manjung, Perak.

But on Jan 12, 2013, disaster struck.

Ashraf was on his way to buy food with his friends when he lost control of his motorcycle and hit a road divider at about 3pm.

While his friends escaped with light injuries, Ashraf’s left arm was 90% severed. It had to be amputated.

Being a left-hander, it made things worse.

Malaysian Muhamad Ashraf Muhammad posing with Gold medal after won in the mens 1500m T46 final event at National Stadium Bukit Jalil.AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star
Muhamad Ashraf Muhammad  

“All my hopes of doing well in the SPM examinations were shattered. I was in shock and could accept the fact that I had lost my left hand,” recalled Ashraf.

“It took me more than six months to get over the incident. I couldn’t face the public and I also refused to go to the school because I couldn’t write with my right hand.

“My parents and my siblings played a big part in helping me overcome the incident.

“My biggest challenge was to learn to use my right hand to write. It took me six months to learn to write with my right hand.

“My elder sister Norazah, who was pursuing a degree in mechnical engineering at the Sheffield University in England, taught me online for my SPM examinations.

“Finally, I managed to obtain one A (in Science), four Bs (Bahasa Malaysia, History, Mathematics and Geography) and two Cs (Accounts and English).”

Ashraf also credited his teacher Hazlisham Harun for helping to turn his life around.

Since Ashraf had represented Perak in the boys’ Under-18 2,000m steeplechase at the National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) meet in Ipoh in 2012, Hazlisham encouraged him to continue to focus on athletics.

“At first I wasn’t keen on it because I found running with just one hand very uncomfortable. But I slowly got used to it and joined the Perak para athletics team in 2014.

“In March 2014, I featured in the Dubai Para Athletics Grand Prix and finished fourth in the 800m.

“I was then selected for in the 2015 Asean Para Games in Singapore, where I did well to win gold in the T46 (amputee) 800m and silver in the 1,500m.

“That was the turning point of my athletics career. I then did much better at the Kuala Lumpur Asean Para Games in September by winning two golds in the 800m and 1,500m and silver in the 400m.

“I also broke the Asean Para Games record in the 800m by clocking 2:03.72 to qualify for next year’s Asian Para Games in Jakarta,” said Ashraf, who received a total of RM34,000 under the National Sports Council (NSC) incentives scheme for his efforts in the KL Asean Para Games.

And he’s happy that he’s now able to help his parents out financially.

“I also get a training allowance of RM2,000 every month for my achievements in the KL Asean Para Games. I’m happy that I’m not a burden to my parents.

“I want to continue training harder and hopefully win a medal at the Asian Para Games next year. If I do that, I will get a training allowance of RM4,500 every month.

“My advice to people like me is not to feel sorry for themselves but to instead take up sports to overcome their sorrow,” said Ashraf, who wants to continue his education next year and fulfil his dream of earning a degree – in sports science.

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