PETALING JAYA: Cycling was not his first sporting passion but it has turned around Zuhairie Ahmad Tarmizi’s (pic) life.
The former football player rode his way into the history books as the first Malaysian cyclist to win gold at the Asian Para Games.
Zuhairie won the tight sprint finish at the end of the men’s road race C5, posting 2’18:58.155 to deliver the first of two gold medals won for Malaysia in the road race competition at the Sentul International Circuit yesterday.
China’s Lai Shanzhang was beaten to second with 2’18:58.328 ahead of Indonesia’s Losu Marthin (2’18:58.378).
Visually impaired Nur Azlia Syafinaz and her able bodied pilot Nurul Suhada Zainal later claimed the second gold medal for Malaysia in the women’s road race (B).
Nur Azlia-Nurul clocked 2’13:28.777 to finish ahead of Indonesia’s Sri Sugiyanti (2’25:30.411) and Singapore’s Emily Lee (2’25:33.367).
Zuhairie, who lost his right hand in a tragic accident while helping his family sell sugarcane juice back in Marang, Terengganu, in 2012, is set to receive RM80,000 under the National Sports Incentive scheme for his golden feat.
“I want to thank the National Sports Council, my coaches and my family for their support to help me to where I am today.
“I was pushed all the way today but I did not want to give up the lead,” said Zuhairie, whose right wrist was amputated after it got stuck in the sugarcane machine.
His world fell apart but a call from the National Sports Council (NSC) two years later gave him a second chance to contribute to the nation.
He entered the world of cycling, something which never crossed his mind before.
Zuhairie made the best of his situation and earned his way into the Asian Para Games squad after winning two gold medals at the Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur last year.
“I was a former football player for T-Team.
“I was really in the dumps after losing my limb.
“I did not want to be a cyclist at first but when the offer came from the NSC, I accepted it with an open heart.
“Hopefully, I can qualify for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo after this,” he added.