KUALA LUMPUR: Para athlete Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Puzi turned 32 in September but age is just a number for the Kangar-born athlete. He believes he is still in good form for the World Para Athletics Championships which starts in Dubai on Thursday.
Ridzuan, who was named the best Asian Male Para Athlete in April after winning three golds in the Asian Para Games in Jakarta last year, will be competing in the men’s 100m and 400m T36 (cerebral palsy) in the UAE from Nov 7-15.
His target is to beat his personal best of 11.87, which won him the gold in Jakarta, and get himself a place on the podium.
Ridzuan, who will be competing in his third world meet, will face a stiff challenge from defending champion Yang Yifei of China and Russia’s Evgenii Shvetsov in the 100m.
The Malaysian made a memorable world championship debut in Doha, Qatar in 2015 by winning his pet event but was denied a second straight gold by Yifei two years ago in London.
Ridzuan believes he can still give other sprinters a run for their money despite his age.
“I am still in good form and I want a personal best and a medal. I have been training hard and I am confident of peaking in Dubai. A good timing will win me a place in next year’s Tokyo Paralympics, ” said Ridzuan, who also won gold in the 100m in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
National para athletics chief coach R. Jaganathan said Ridzuan was a dedicated and committed athlete, who always gave his best.
“I am certain that he will rise to the occasion and deliver a medal. I will be happy if he can clock a personal best in the 100m.
“Ridzuan will also compete in the 400m but I believe he has a better chance for a medal in the 100m, ” said Jaganathan.
Ridzuan is among 12 athletes – 10 men and two women – who were supposed to feature in the world meet but women’s 400m runner Siti Noor Iasah Mohd Ariffin has withdrawn as she is ill.
The male athletes are Mohd Afiq Mohd Ali Hanafiah in the 100m T12 (visual impairment), Mohd Faizal Aideal Suhaimi 100m T12, Mohd Nasharuddin 400m T20 (intellectual impairment), Mohd Ashraf Mohd Haisham 1,500m T46 (amputation), Wong Kar Gee long jump T12, Abdul Latif Romly long jump F20 (learning disability), Eddy Bernard long jump T44 (amputation and others including dwarfism), Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli and Mohd Aliff Mohd Awi, both in shot putt F20.
The only woman athlete is Siti Noor Radiah Ismail in long jump T20.
At the last meet in London two years ago, Malaysia won two golds and a silver.
Ziyad and Abdul Latif delivered the golds to add to Ridzuan’s silver.
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