PETALING JAYA: The performances of several Paralympians under trying circumstances have been satisfactory.
This is national para athletics chief coach R. Jaganathan’s assessment after observing his charges during training and at the in-house competition against able-bodied athletes in Bukit Jalil last month.
Paralympian Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Puzi improved his timing in the 100m T36 (cerebral palsy) from 11.97s to 11.93s, which is a good sign ahead of the Tokyo Games from Aug 24-Sept 5.
The other Olympics qualifiers, Ziyad Zolkefli (shot putt F20, intellectual impairment), Abdul Latif Romly (long jump F20) and Jonathan Wong Gar Kee (long jump T12 visual impairment) also performed reasonably well.
Jaganathan admitted that it was not easy to keep his athletes motivated with all the uncertainty around them due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s harder to explain to disabled athletes.
“Some of them want to know why they have to train when there are no competitions. Fortunately, our athletes have accepted it and are giving their best in training, ” said Jaganathan.
“Ridzuan did well in the one local competition that we managed to participate in. He is 34 this year and this could be his last Olympics but I’m happy with the commitment shown by all the Road to Tokyo athletes thus far.”
Jaganthan is preparing the athletes for three International Paralympic Committee (IPC) competitions in April (Italy and China) and May (France).
“We are now doing general preparation but will increase the intensity of training before the tournaments. We’re not sure whether these competitions will take place but we will not stop training, ” he said.
While some of his athletes are prone to injuries, Jaganthan is grateful for the medical support from the National Sports Institute (NSI).
“They provide a crucial part in the athletes’ recovery and I can’t thank them enough for giving the best medical support for our para athletes during training, ” he said.
Besides the four who have already qualified for the Paralympics, Jaganathan is also hoping for a few others to join the list.
They are Nasharuddin Mohd (400m T20), Mohd Aliff Mohd Awi (shot putt F20), Zulkifli Abdullah (long jump T20) and Siti Noor Iasah Ariffin (400m T20) whose participation depends on their world ranking.
If they can remain in the top-12 standings by June this year, they will get to go for the Paralympics.
Two others who are still chasing qualification spots are Mohd Afiq Mohd Ali Hanapiah (100m T12) and Siti Noor Radiah Ismail (long jump F20).