KUALA LUMPUR: Para athlete Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli has created history of sort.
The 24-year-old shot putter is the first athlete to be the flag bearer for a record third time in the Para Games.
He was first selected to lead the Malaysian contingent in the London Paralympics in 2012.
In January, he was the flag bearer for the Asean Para Games in Myanmar. Now, nine months later, he will lead the Malaysian contingent to the Para Asian Games in Incheon from Oct 18-24.
“I’m honoured to be the first athlete – whether abled or disabled – to be the flag bearer for three times in two years.
“It will be my first Para Asian Games and I have created a record even before going to the Games,” said Ziyad, who shot to fame when he won a bronze with a hurl of 15.21m in the men’s F20 shot putt at the Paralympics in London.
A year later, he created history when he registered a personal best of 15.23m to win the gold medal at his first International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Athletics Championships in France.
Ziyad, who is No. 2 in the IPC world rankings hopes to return from Incheon with a gold medal.
“I have been training hard and will go all out to give my best,” Ziyad said after receiving the Jalur Gemilang from chef de mission Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdullah at Dewan Komanwel in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
Paralympic Council of Malaysia patron Tun Jeanne Abdullah and her husband Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (former Prime Minister of Malaysia) were present at the flag handing ceremony.
A total of 128 athletes will feature in 15 of the 23 sports contested in Incheon.
Abdul Jalil is confident that Malaysia can do better than the nine golds they won in the last Para Games in Guangzhou.