KUALA LUMPUR: Shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli has enjoyed many firsts in his young career.
In 2012, Ziyad shot to fame when he bagged the bronze medal – with a throw of 15.21m – in the men’s F20 shot putt event at the Paralympic Games in London.
A year later, he topped that with a personal best of 15.32m to bag a glittering gold medal at his first International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Athletics Championships in France.
Ziyad is set to experience another first when he competes in the Asian Para Games in Incheon South Korea from Oct 18-24.
But Ziyad, who is No. 2 in the IPC world rankings, rubbished any notions of first-time luck.
“I’m very grateful for the successes I’ve achieved. But I’ve put in the hours and worked very hard for it. There is no such thing as luck,” said Ziyad at the National Sports Council (NSC) track on Monday.
Ziyad rewrote his personal best again with a 15.69m effort at the Asean Para Games in January, but was a letdown at the Tunis International meet in Tunisia in June.
“I suffered a broken right index finger in Tunisia during the competition and I could only manage 15.13m,” recalled Ziyad.
“The injury was a big setback in my build-up towards the (Asian Para) Games ... it took me about three months to fully recover. But that’s all in the past now and I have my sights set on charting a new personal best en route to winning the gold in Incheon.”
Head coach R. Jeganathan said that the NSC’s four-year paralympic athletics programme has been a major success and he is banking on his 22 chargers to deliver again.
“They had a good outing in Guangzhou (four years ago) ... we expect them to do it again in Incheon. It’s not a bold statement, but all our athletes are medal prospects in Incheon,” he said.
“They have the ability and we’re hoping that they’ll shine at the Games and bring home at least two golds or more.”
At the 2010 Para Games in Guangzhou, athletics contributed 10 medals – one gold, three silvers and six bronzes.
Mohd Hisham Khaironi delivered the gold in the men’s 200m T12 and also a silver in the 100m T12.