THE TOKYO lesson was certainly on the mind of national shot putter Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli in Hanoi. He made sure he was early for his event – and went on to win the bronze at the Vietnam SEA Games.
Asked by reporters, he jokingly replied: “For sure I came early. If not, I would not be holding this medal.”
In the Tokyo Paralympics last year, Ziyad, 32, was disqualified after winning the F20 shot putt gold.
He had hurled a distance of 17.94m, which was a new world record, at the Tokyo Paralympics, the same day Malaysia celebrated Merdeka Day.
He, however, was classified as DNS (did not start) following a protest by the Ukrainian team that claimed Ziyad had reported in late – by three minutes, at the waiting room.
Ziyad said the bronze won at the MyDinh Stadium in Vietnam certainly erases the pain he went through last year.
This is his second SEA Games bronze, after the one at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
In the 2019 Manila SEA Games, he won silver, finishing behind the Philippines’ William Morrison III, who retained his gold in Vietnam with a throw of 18.14m. Thailand’s Jakkapt Noisri won silver with 17.32m.
But in terms of distance, Ziyad did better. He managed 17.20m in Hanoi, compared to 17.03m in Manila.
“Even my coach was impressed that I consistently hit 17m with my throws. I felt I had given my best, especially with my form over the last few months.
“It’s good to show that a Paralympic athlete can compete against able-bodied athletes. At the end of the day, I must bring pride to Malaysia.
“It would have been nice to have a silver or gold, but I will accept this bronze.”
Ziyad said that he would be going to Switzerland in 10 days for a Paralympic tournament.
Meanwhile, Andre Anura Anuar finished fifth in the long jump with a distance of 7.24m, while women’s high jumper Ngu Jia Xin also finished fifth with a height of 1.65m.