KUALA LUMPUR: Two-time world para shot putt champion Ziyad Zolkefli is not one to complain. But his six-week training stint in Mannheim, Germany, in preparation for the Tokyo Paralympics, has left him grumbling out loud.
Ziyad, who holds the world record of 17.29m in the men’s F20 (intellectual impairment), was annoyed that he could not compete in even one meet in Germany, due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“When I left to Mannheim on Feb 1, the situation in Europe was okay and everyone could move freely.
“I was scheduled to compete in two meets in Germany but in just a few weeks the virus spread so fast that all competitions in Germany and all over Europe were either postponed or cancelled due the virus, ” said Ziyad, who won gold in the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in 2016.
“What was really frustrating is that I trained for six weeks without even competing in a single meet to gauge my performance.
“I have not featured in any competition since winning silver in the Philippines SEA Games in December, ” said Ziyad, who returned home on March 15, which was also his 29th birthday.
Ziyad said that after returning from Germany, he was hoping to compete in domestic meets like the Melaka Open on March 28 and 29 but those have been cancelled with Malaysia’s movement control order.
“I really don’t know when I will get to take part in my first competition this year. The Covid-19 outbreak is getting worse all over the world and I hope it will not affect the Paralympics Games (from Aug 25 to Sept 6) as I want to defend my gold in the Games.
“I want to defend the Paralympics gold after failing to retain my world championships title (in Dubai, United Arab Emirates last November), ” said Ziyad, who won the world titles in Lyon, France in 2013 and in London in 2017.
Ziyad, a father of two, also said he has not come close to his personal best of 17.29m since breaking the world record in London in 2017.
“I have been training very hard and I hope to achieve it in Tokyo, ” said Ziyad.
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