PETALING JAYA: It’s one of the best Hari Raya celebrations this year for para swimmer Nur Syaiful Zulkifli.
Not only did he get to spend time with his family back in Kuching but the 25-year-old received confirmation of his Tokyo Paralympic slot.
Nur Syaiful is going to be the only male representative for Malaysia in para swimming.
Sabah-born Brenda Annelia Larry has already booked a spot as the sole women’s representative.
Nur Syaiful earned substantial ranking points towards Tokyo Paralympics following his historic performance at the World Para Swimming Championships in London last year where he bagged a bronze in the 50m freestyle (S5) final.
His time of 33.20 was also a new Asian record, improving on the previous time of 33.87 held by Vietnam’s Vo Thanh Tung who set the mark when he won silver at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
Syaiful, who is wheelchair-bound after losing the use of his legs following a motorcycle accident eight years ago, is thrilled to confirm the Paralympics ticket.
“It is hard to get the qualifying slot as even Asia have very strong swimmers from Vietnam and China especially,” said Nur Syaiful.
“I took part in a few competitions but the biggest points I secured was at the world championships.
“This is one of the nicest Hari Raya occasion I can remember although the country is still under the movement control order (MCO).
“I was asked to return to Sarawak after the Bukit Jalil complex closed just before MCO started on March 18 and I am still here.
“I was not able to train in the pool but at least I get to spend the month of Ramadan and Hari Raya with my family for the first time in three years,” he said.
But it won’t be long before he is back in the pool.
Nur Syaiful has accepted the offer to return to Kuala Lumpur to join the Road to Tokyo training camp starting on June 8.
“It’s going to be my first Paralympics and I hope to repeat the same form from London in Tokyo next year.
“I will be facing the same field of swimmers and I know I stand a chance in the 50m and 100m freestyle events,” said Nur Syaiful, who is also swimming in the 200m freestyle in Tokyo.
Nur Syaiful is not able to make a splash at the Para Asean Games this year because the meet has been cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic.
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