To read on The Star online website:
Inspiring success from the Paralympians
Their feats elevate the profile of disabled athletes as well as disabled folk.
HOW about that! Our Malaysian Paralympic athletes have achieved success on the world stage and then some.
Like the London bus, we have waited ages for an Olympic gold medal and then two come along at once, followed in short order by another.
Granted, this was at the Paralympic Games in Rio, not the actual Olympics, but a gold is a gold. And not only did our Paralympians win gold, they did so in style, setting new Games and world records in the process.
Last Saturday, Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Puzi sprinted to the men’s T36 (cerebral palsy) 100m title in a new Paralympics record of 12.07 seconds, beating the previous time of 12.25 set by Ukraine’s Roman Pavlyk at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Then Ziyad Zolkefli broke the world record twice on his way to victory in the F20 (intellectual disability) shot put, his winning distance 16.84m after earlier throwing 16.40m to surpass the previous world mark of 16.29m.
The next day, teenager Abdul Latif Romly won Malaysia’s third gold, also setting new world marks in the men’s T20 long jump final. He leapt 7.47m in his second attempt, beating the previous world record of 7.37m, and immediately set a new mark of 7.54m in his next attempt, then improved his own record again with a winning leap of 7.60m in the fifth attempt.
And yesterday, another long jumper gave the nation a lovely Malaysia Day present with a bronze medal – Siti Noor Radiah Ismail in the women’s T20 final. She jumped 5.20m to break her own Asian record of 5.10m set at the Asian Games two years ago.
Their achievements are equally, if not more, soul-stirring than that of their able-bodied compatriots at the Olympics earlier.
Watching the video recording of Ridzuan’s run, for instance, how heartwarming was it to hear the commentator describe him as the hugely popular world champion from the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha last year and to see him gesticulating confidently, almost cheekily, at the camera while being introduced, before making a near-perfect start and surging to the line in triumph, then draping the Malaysian flag around his shoulders as he celebrated?
Who could fail to be moved, watching Ridzuan, Ziyad and Latif on the podium receiving their gold medals and seeing the evident pride and joy in their faces as Negaraku resounded in the stadium and the Jalur Gemilang was raised? Ziyad’s tears, in particular, must have melted many hearts and brought a lump into throats around the country.
These athletes inspire us by their success, by overcoming adversity to reach the pinnacle of their sport, by bringing honour to our nation and uniting Malaysians in sharing their joy and triumph.
But more importantly, their feats should raise the profile of disabled athletes and disabled folk in general, reminding us that they too can be talented and achieve great things given the opportunity.