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Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli's disqualification on a technicality drew Malaysian ire. — AFP pic
Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli’s disqualification on a technicality drew Malaysian ire. — AFP pic

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TOKYO, Sept 4 — Malaysian chef de mission (CDM) Datuk Seri Megat D Shahriman Zaharuddin has apologised to Ukraine for criticisms levelled at their athlete Maksym Koval, who won the gold medal in the men’s shot put F20 (physical impairment) category at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Megat Shahriman said he apologised on behalf of all Malaysians during a meeting with the Ukraine CDM, Olena Zaitseva, who is also the Ukraine Paralympic Council secretary-general, here today.

He also explained to her that the negative reaction from some individuals stemmed from their frustration over the decision which went against Muhammad Ziyad, more so since it happened on the day Malaysia celebrated its 64th National Day on Aug 31.

“I admit that I was also upset when I got the result that Ziyad’s participation had been cancelled due to a technical error. I believe this incident has not only taught me, but also all sports enthusiasts, that time is gold, and time can also cause us to lose the coveted gold medal.

“In the short meeting, accompanied by the Paralympic Council of Malaysia (PCM) secretary-general (Datuk R. Subramaniam), I spoke with the Ukraine CDM to resolve the dispute, including promising to maintain good bilateral relations between Malaysia and Ukraine.

“Zaitseva also gave an assurance that she would convey our apology to the people of Ukraine. She admitted that the Ukraine government also regretted the incident,” he said in a statement.

He hoped all parties would be able to maintain a high level of sportsmanship, good professional ties and take the incident as a lesson so that it would not happen again.

A protest lodged by Ukraine, claiming Muhammad Ziyad was late to enter the call room resulted in the Malaysian not being able to defend the gold medal he won at the 2016 Rio edition despite him setting a new world record of 17.94-metre.

His classification as “Did Not Start” (DNS) also resulted in the record not being recognised. — Bernama

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