Best is yet to come from Ziyad


KUALA LUMPUR: From a Paralympian to a world champion. The sky’s the limit for shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, who now wants to break the world record in the F20 men’s category.

Last month, competing in the F20 category in the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Athletics Championships in Lyon, France, Ziyad’s personal best effort of 15.32m secured him the gold medal. 

Sweden’s Jeffrey Ige (15.32m) took silver while reigning Olympic champion and world record holder Todd Hodgetts of Australia finished third with 15.17m. 

And yesterday, the 23-year-old Ziyad was honoured by the Malaysian Para-Athletics Association (MPAA) and the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (PCM) for his heroics. in winning the gold at the Worlds.

The MPAA even rewarded him with a Hari Raya incentive of RM5,000.

“I’ve trained for five, six years for competitions like this,” said Ziyad.

“My goal is to always keep on improving. In Lyon, I wanted to improve on my previous mark (15.12m). I even wasn’t thinking about the medal.”

“After the Olympics, I told myself that if I meet the world champion again, I’d try to beat him
“Now that I’ve managed to do it, I want to get the world record next.”

Hodgetts holds the world record of 16.29m, set at the London Games where Ziyad won a bronze. 

“I think I can do it. I managed throws of 15.7m and 15.8m in Lyon but the throws were disqualified. So, I’m inching closer. I know it’s within my grasp. I just have to dig deep, keep improving and give my best,” he said. 

At the Worlds, Ziyad was forced to compete wearing normal jogging shoes after losing his luggage at the airport. So team manager Jegathesan Ramasamy pulled him aside on competition day for a pep-talk.

“He didn’t have his luggage and worse,we couldn’t find throwing shoes ... so, we had to work with what he had,” said team manager R. Jeganathan yesterday. after the ceremony.

“I took him aside and told him that he was going to have to kill it (the competition) with the first throw. And that’s exactly what he did.

“Ziyad’s got the drive and the motivation to go far.” and the NSC (National Sports Council) has been tremendously supportive of Paralympics and our athletes which is all the more encouraging for us.”

Ziyad has been growing in leaps and bounds since winning the bronze at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. At this rate, the shot putter could very well land Malaysia’s first gold at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

He is currently training for next year’s Asean Para Games in Myanmar (January) and the Incheon Asian Para Games in South Korea (October).

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