The success of the national paralympians in delivering the best-ever results at the Paralympic Games in Rio Di Janeiro was attained even though the squad’s team members suffered setbacks, said National Sports Council (MSN) director-general Ahmad Shapawi Ismail.
He said that behind the extraordinary achievements, they had to go through a difficult patch when they lost colleagues who were in their prime such as national paralympic sprinter Azlan Mat Lazim.
“The late Azlan, who was at the peak of his career with three gold medals in the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea, was among the medal prospects in Rio, but was killed in a road accident in 2015.
“Before that, the national paralympic camp was shocked by the loss of national archer Mohd Salam Sidik who died in another road accident in 2011 while para athletics chief coach, R Jeganathan was badly injured in a road accident in January this year,” he said.
He told this to Bernama after attending the Junior Cycling Malaysia race which was launched by Tunku Laksamana Kedah Tunku Abdul Hamid Thani Sultan Badlishah in front of Menara Alor Setar this morning.
However, Ahmad Shapawi said all these untoward incidents which befell their teammates made the paralympic athletes more determined to excel including Siti Nor Iasah Mohammad Ariffin who was placed fourth in the women’s 400m T20 (intellectual disability) event.
Malaysia collected their first gold medal in the Rio Paralympic through sprinter Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi in the men’s 100m T36 (cerebral palsy) followed by Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli who set a new world record in the men’s shot put F20 (intellectual disability) with a throw of 16.84m.
Malaysia’s brilliant run continued with Abdul Latif Romly who won the gold after breaking the world record in the men's long jump T20 with a distance of 7.60m, followed by a bronze medal via Siti Noor Radiah in the women’s long jump T20 event.
Ahmad Shapawi added that the Paralympics success began from the paralympic elite programme organised by the Youth and Sports Ministry via MSN and the National Sports Institute with the cooperation of the Malaysian Paralympic Council (MPM) since 2006.
“This is the fruits after the implementation of the long-term training programme. Their successes in Rio were even sweeter with the setting of new Games and world records.
“Athletics did extremely well but several other sports such as cycling and sailing were not disappointing. The training programme for archery and weightlifting will be reviewed and improved in future,” he said.