PETALING JAYA: Reigning Rio Paralympics champion sprinter Ridzuan Puzi not only failed to retain the men’s 100m T36 (intellectual impairment) title at the World Para Athletics Championships but also suffered the agony of losing his world record in the meet in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
The 32-year-old was slow off the blocks and had to settle for bronze with a time of 11.97 in the final.
Young Australian James Turner erased Ridzuan’s record with a powerful finish in the final, clocking a stunning 11.72 for the gold medal. Turner was only 20 when he won the men’s 800m T36 gold medal at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
Ridzuan set his world record of 11.87 when he won gold at the Asian Para Games in Indonesia last year.
Defending champion Yang Yifei of China took the silver this time with 11.79, which is also a new Asian record.
It was Yifei who beat Ridzuan to the gold medal at the last edition of the world meet in London two years ago. Ridzuan had won the gold in the 2015 edition in Doha, Qatar.
The Malaysian was looking good for a medal when he qualified third fastest for the final after posting 11.97 in the heats. Turner was only fourth fastest with Yifei on top with the fastest time of 11.91.
Ridzuan, who was born in Padang Besar in Perlis, was disappointed at not having clocked a better time.
“I tried my best to win the first gold medal for Malaysia at these world championships but it was not meant to be.
“There are faster runners than me and they are also younger but I take this as a challenge to work harder to defend my Paralympics title next year, ” said Ridzuan, who has made the cut for the Tokyo Paralympics next year with his bronze-medal finish.
The top four finishers at the world meet get one quota slot for the Tokyo Paralympics.
Another Rio Paralympics champion Abdul Latif Romly is now Malaysia’s only gold medal hope in Dubai. Abdul Latif will compete in the men’s long jump T20 (learning disability) final tomorrow. He is the world record holder with 7.64m.
Besides the bronze from Ridzuan, Malaysia also have two silver medals from Ziyad Zolkefli in the men’s shot putt F20 (intellectual impairment) and Jonathan Wong Kar Gee in the men’s long jump T12 (vision impairment).
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