Ziyad’s Merdeka gift for country cruelly snatched away


Injustice: Ziyad en route to the shot putt gold medal which was taken away from him after a protest by the Ukraine team.

PETALING JAYA: What would have been a grand Merdeka gift for the country was cruelly snatched away from Ziyad Zolkefli after he was sensationally disqualified from the men’s shot putt F20 competition despite having bettered his world record not once but three times in Tokyo.

Ziyad thought his incredible performance was enough to retain his Paralympic men’s shot putt F20 title at the Olympic Stadium last night.

It would have been Malaysia’s second gold at the Tokyo Paralympics after Bonnie Bunyau Gustin won the powerlifting men’s 72kg category on Saturday.

But just moments later, officials removed Ziyad’s result and those of two other competitors as well based on a protest launched by the Ukraine team on the grounds that the trio were late to enter the roll call area.

The call room is the commencement of the athletes’ competition journey. From the call room, the athletes are considered to be in “competition” mode and will be escorted at all times by technical officials until they complete their event.

Ukrainian Koval Maksym, who was hot on Ziyad’s heels throughout the six-round competition, was declared the winner with 17.34m.

Another Ukraine competitor Oleksandr Yarovyi got the silver with 17.30m while Efstratios Nikolaidis of Greece was promoted to bronze with 15.93m.

Maksym made what turned out to be the winning throw with his third attempt to better Ziyad’s first attempt of 17.31m.

Ziyad previously held the world record of 17.29m set at the world para athletics championships in London four years ago.

The Selangor-born Ziyad again went past his previous world record mark with 17.62m on his third attempt.

Interestingly, Ziyad’s effort was better than the new national record for able bodied athletics.

Ziyad bettered the previous national record of 17.54m held by Adi Aliffudin Hussin held since 2011.

It was a crushing end after a sensational performance from the title holder from Rio de Janeiro and Malaysia can only hope Ridzuan Puzi and Abdul Latif Romly can redeem the pride.

Ridzuan and Abdul Latif will be defending their respective men’s 100m T36 and long jump T20 titles later in the week.

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