Bittersweet Tokyo experience only whets Ziyad’s appetite for gold

PETALING JAYA: Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli (pic) is a man with a mission in Hanoi. He intends to use the Tokyo Paralympics last year as an inspiration even though it turned out to be a forgettable episode.

Ziyad, 32, was disqualified after winning the F20 shot putt gold. He had hurled a distance of 17.94m, which was a new world record, at the Tokyo Paralympics, the same day Malaysia celebrated Merdeka Day.

He, however, was classified as DNS (did not start) following a protest by the Ukrainian team that claimed Ziyad had reported in late – by three minutes, at the waiting room before the competition began.

Ziyad has moved on from that bitter experience and is looking on the bright side. He said that his mark of 17.94m on that day gave him hope that he could do something similar in the Vietnam SEA Games.

“I believe I can do better than I did in Tokyo. I have to show that I have what it takes to break my personal best. I am 100% ready for the competition. My mind and body are fully prepared,” said the affable Ziyad.

“In six days, we will fly to Hanoi carrying the hopes and prayers of the whole nation. I know that if I give my best, I will surely perform. For me, it’s not even impossible to think of gold.

“But during competition day, I will focus on the distance and see where it leads me. Obviously, any athlete in the Games don’t go in thinking of not winning the gold.

“Everybody wants it, including me.”

His personal best is 17.12m, which was recorded in the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur. He won bronze in that edition.

In his last international competition before the SEA Games, Ziyad won bronze in the Singapore Open with a throw of 16.54m, which is his best of the season so far.

The Philippines’ Albert John Mantua and William Edward Morrison finished first (17.33m) and second (16.61m) respectively.

Before the Singapore Open, Ziyad finished second in the Malaysian Open with a throw of 16.27m. He was second again in the Malaysian All-Comers with a throw of 16.20m.

“The three competitions have given me much needed momentum. I’ve also gauged my opponents in Hanoi. My Singapore Open result was good but I have to do better than that.

“I hope that what I did in Tokyo can be done again. I just feel that my form is coming back and it will be shown at the MyDinh Stadium.”

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