PETALING JAYA: It was not the storming Paralympics debut Muhd Nur Syaiful Zulkafli was looking for but he is not disheartened.
The 26-year-old clocked 2:59.01 but missed out on the chance to make the final of the men’s 200m freestyle S5 (physical disabilities) after he was disqualified for an infraction.
Syaiful had put a waterproof plaster to cover a boil in his shoulder but it was considered an infraction under Paralympic swimming rules.
Spanish swimmer Antoni Ponce Betran topped the heat with 2:33.73 followed by Brazil’s Daniel de Faria Dias in second place (2:45.16) and Dmitrii Cherniaev of the Russian Olympic Committee (2:48.18).
The best eight swimmers after the two qualifying heats make the cut for the final.
After having no competitive action for almost two years, Syaiful will be comforted by his timing in the first race in his maiden Paralympics campaign.
Syaiful’s time would have stood as a personal best as he previously clocked 2:59.47 in finishing seventh at the world para swimming championships in London two years ago.
The Sarawak-born swimmer clocked 3:02.57 in winning silver in the 200m freestyle at the Indonesia Asian Para Games in 2018.
“My personal best in the 200m freestyle was at the 2019 world championships in London.
It was also the last competition I swam as we did not go for any after that because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m disappointed to get disqualified. I checked earlier with the swimming official and they said it’s up to me whether to put or to remove it. I put the plaster on to avoid getting infected.
“Now, I hope that it will be okay by the 50m freestyle event as it is my best chance to achieve something,” said Nur Syaiful, who is scheduled to compete in the 100m freestyle today.
It is in the 50m freestyle on Sept 1 where Nur Syaiful fancies a chance to win a historic Paralympic swimming medal for Malaysia.
Nur Syaiful became the first Malaysian swimmer to win a world championship medal when he took bronze in the 50m freestyle in London two years ago.
He also won the gold in the 50m freestyle at the Indonesia Asian Para Games, making him the first Malaysian swimmer to do so.
Nur Syaiful took up the sport as part of his rehabilitation after a motorbike accident in 2012 left him paralysed in his legs.
Apart from Nur Syaiful, Malaysia are also represented by Jamery Siga in the men’s 50m butterfly S5 and Brenda Anellia Larry in the women’s 50m butterfly S4 category (learning disabilities).