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National paralympic swimmer Muhammad Nur Syaiful Zulkafli after the men’s 100 metre (m) freestyle S5 final at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre, August 26, 2021. — Bernama pic
National paralympic swimmer Muhammad Nur Syaiful Zulkafli after the men’s 100 metre (m) freestyle S5 final at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre, August 26, 2021. — Bernama pic

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TOKYO, Aug 26 — National swimmer Muhammad Nur Syaiful Zulkafli achieved his best performance thus far when he broke his S5 men’s 100 m freestyle (physical disabilities) personal record at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Starting in the first lane, Nur Syaiful finished seventh out of eight swimmers in the event at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre today.

The Sarawak swimmer recorded a time of 1 minute 15.12 seconds, thus erasing his previous personal best of 1: 15.39s that he set in London in 2019.

Italian Francesco Bocciardo put up a great performance to grab the gold with a time of 1: 09.56s followed by Chinese swimmer Lichao Wang with a time of 1: 10.45s while Daniel de Faria Dias of Brazil failed to defend the gold he won in Rio 2016 and had to settle for bronze with 1: 10.80s.

Earlier, Nur Syaiful had advanced to the final after finishing third in the first of two qualifying heats and was seventh best out of 13 swimmers overall.

He clocked 1: 16.33 seconds in the race.

Only the best eight swimmers from the two heats held in the morning advanced to the final.

Yesterday, Nur Syaiful, who suffered deformity in both legs after being involved in an accident in 2012, did not qualify for the final of the S5 men’s 200m freestyle event after his participation in the first qualifying heat was cancelled due to a technical error.

After two events, the 26-year-old still has a chance to win medals as he is scheduled to compete in the men’s 50m freestyle (S5) and 100m breaststroke (SB4) events after this to complete his debut in the prestigious Games in Japan. 

Meanwhile, Nur Syaiful expressed satisfaction with his achievement today and hoped that it would motivate him to also break his personal best times in his two remaining events.

“I hope to qualify for the final in two more events. Insyaallah (God willing), I will do my best to improve on my position today,” he added.

Nur Syaiful said his left shoulder no longer felt as painful and he hopes to recover further before he takes to the pool again. — Bernama

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