KUALA LUMPUR: While many moaned about the postponement of the Asean Para Games in the Philippines from Jan 20-27 to March 20-27, para long jumper Abdul Latif Romly is considering it a blessing.
Abdul Latif, who suffered an ankle injury in October, now has more time to recover and get into shape for the Games. And he hopes to go from there to the Tokyo Paralympics in September to defend his gold medal in the men’s T20 (intellectual impairment).
“With the postponement of the Asean Games, I have enough time to train to win my fourth consecutive gold there. I also want to break my own Asean Games record of 7.45m, which I set in the Singapore Games in 2015, ” said Abdul Latif, who has bagged gold in the last three Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, in 2013, Singapore in 2015 and Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
The Kangar-born athlete featured in the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), last October and suffered the ankle injury during his second jump.
Abdul Latif, who holds the world record of 7.60m – which he set in the Asian Para Games in Jakarta to win gold in 2018 – could only manage 7.24m to settle for silver.
Ranki Oberai of Holland won with a jump of 7.39m.
Abdul Latif, who will turn 23 in March, said he was disappointed at failing to retain gold in Dubai.
“I went there as the favourite to win my third gold and set a new world record. But I came back with the injury and a silver.
“What is more annoying is that it took me three months to recover and I only started training again under coach Mohd Syahrul (Amri Suhaimi) two weeks ago, ” said Abdul Latif, the two-time world champion in Doha in 2015 and London in 2017.
“I failed to defend gold in the world meet but I don’t want the same thing to happen in the Paralympic Games.
“I now have a phobia of getting injured. In 2018, I had a hamstring injury while training and it took me more than a month to recover.
“I don’t want to get another injury which could jeopardise my hopes of winning my second gold in the Paralympics, ” said Abdul Latif, who received a RM1mil incentive from the National Sports Council (NSC) for winning gold in the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games in 2016.
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