Struggling Ziyad still good for gold at world meet in Dubai

  • Athletics
  • Thursday, 07 Nov 2019

Under pressure: Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli is the world record holder in the shot putt.

KUALA LUMPUR: Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli has been struggling in competitions despite his three training stints in Mannheim, Germany, this year.

Still, the 2016 Paralympic gold medallist is confident of defending his title in the shot putt F20 (intellectual impairment) in the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which begins today.

Ziyad’s personal best of 17.29m is the world record he set at the championships in London two years ago.This season, though, his best has been only 16.67m, which he did en route to winning in the Malaysian Closed in Bukit Jalil in August.

The 29-year-old, who trained under renowned German coach Khalid Alqawati in February, April and October, admitted that he is struggling with his form.

“Although I failed to come close to my personal best in competitions, I still believe I can retain my gold in the world meet.

“I just finished my October stint in Germany and I am in good form to deliver the gold.

“The other shot putters are also struggling to find their form in competitions and I have faith in myself,” said Ziyad, who will be featuring in his fourth world meet.

He made a memorable debut in Lyon, France, in 2013 with a gold medal but managed only a bronze two years later in Doha, Qatar.

In London, he set the world record.

Ziyad said that he needs to win in the world meet to qualify for next year’s Paralympics in Tokyo and also to boost himself before the Philippines SEA Games next month.

Two years ago in Kuala Lumpur, Ziyad became the first para athlete to win a medal in the SEA Games, beating able-bodied athletes to win the bronze with 17.12m.

Malaysia are also relying on Abdul Latif Romly to retain the gold in the men’s long jump F20 in Dubai.

National para athletics chief coach R. Jaganathan said Ziyad and Abdul Latif were both favourites to defend their respective golds in the world meet as they have recorded better performance than the other para athletes.

Malaysia will be represented by 11 athletes – 10 men and a woman – in Dubai.

Jonathan Wong Kar Gee and Muhd Ashraf Mohd Haisham will feature on the first day today in the long jump T12 (visual impairment) and 1,500m T46 (amputation) events respectively.

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