SEPANG, Sept 3 — “No matter what, I have never not brought home a medal for Malaysia.” That was what national shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli said on his return home today after missing out on the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Muhammad Ziyad, who went to Tokyo as the reigning world record holder and defending champion in the F20 (intellectual impairment) category, clearly could not hide his disappointment when speaking to the media at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) here.
The 31-year-old said he had given his best to bring glory to the country but describes his disqualification as a “nightmare”.
“I am sad, extremely sad actually, but I want to show that I am strong also because I have given my best and proven that I am capable.
“Usually I will go and make Malaysia proud. But this time, it feels different. Usually, I will bring home a medal but this time I bring back feelings of sadness, disappointment and grief,” he told a media conference held in conjunction with the national contingent’s return at the KLIA today.
At the same time, Muhammad Ziyad hoped that netizens in Malaysia would stop condemning Ukraine’s Maksym Koval, who won the gold medal, saying he (the Ukrainian) was also a human being like him.
“I hope everyone understands, he is in the same category as me. He too has feelings like me, weaknesses like me we are the same. When he is condemned (by netizens), I don’t know how his situation is like,” said Muhammad Ziyad.
On August 31, Muhammad Ziyad was denied the gold medal in the men’s F20 shot put event. His throw of a distance of 17.94 metres (m) was also a new world record for the event.
He was classified as Did Not Start (DNS) following a protest lodged by Ukraine, who claimed that Muhammad Ziyad was late to enter the call room.
Maksym was announced as the gold medallist with a throw of 17.34m, breaking Muhammad Ziyad’s world record of 17.29m that he had set at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London.
“This has taught me a lesson. In 2024 (at the Paris Paralympics), I will strive to break the world record again,” he said. — Bernama