PETALING JAYA: Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli (pic) is counting down the hours until he gets to end his quarantine after returning from the Tokyo Paralympics.
The shot putter has already come to terms with the heartbreaking episode he went through in Tokyo when he heads home to Banting to reunite with his loved ones this weekend.
On Merdeka day, Ziyad won the F20 shot putt gold medal but was disqualified for arriving late for the event. Ziyad, who was allowed to compete pending a protest by Ukraine, was in his element and broke his world record three times.
In the end, Ukraine’s Maksym Koval won the gold medal with a throw of 17.34m.
“I can’t wait for the quarantine to be over as I want to take my wife and two kids out for lunch or dinner. And I can’t wait to spend time with them as I’ve been away for the last five months.
“Although I talk to them everyday on the phone, it’s just not the same.
“I have a month’s break, maybe I’ll take them for a short holiday by the beach,” said the 31-year-old, who was one of the three gold medallists from athletics at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Ziyad, who won the world title twice in 2013 and 2017, said the words of encouragement and support he has received made him forget about the incident. In fact, he has vowed to bounce back stronger.
“Ziyad will be champion again next year. I want my world title back and I’m looking at an 18m mark.
“There’s a few events to achieve that feat... the Asian Para Games in China and I also want to compete against able-bodied athletes in the Vietnam SEA Games,” added Ziyad.
Meanwhile, the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (PCM) president Datuk Seri Megat D Shahriman Zaharudin welcomes any crowdfunding drive for Ziyad.
Megat said that instead of continuing to comment on the issue involving the 31-year-old athlete, it would be better to create an initiative to honour his services and sacrifices.
At the same time, he agreed that it was not suitable for the National Sports Incentive Scheme (Shakam) be given to Ziyad.
“There are rules and criteria. If Ziyad fulfils them, then we can reward him but he did not win any medal and, although he broke the record, it was not recognised.
“But for all those out there who wishes to carry out the crowdfunding, we welcome such efforts,” Megat told Bernama.