Despite a massive 17.94m throw, it was heartbreak for para-athlete Ziyad Zolkefli who was robbed of the gold medal in the men’s shot put F20 (learning disabilities) final at the Tokyo Paralympics yesterday.
The 2016 Rio Paralympics gold medal winner was disqualified for an apparent “call room” violation prior to the start of the event at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
It is understood that the Malaysian secretariat has made an official protest to challenge the disqualification.
Two other athletes, Equador’s Jordi Patricio Congo Villalba and Australia’s Todd Hodgetts were also disqualified for the same reason.
Earlier, Ziyad had smashed his previous world record of 17.29m set at the 2017 World Para Championships in London, but the 31-year-old’s whopping throw did not stand in the end.
It was a huge letdown for the “Smiling Giant” who had wished to present Malaysia with the perfect Merdeka Day present.
Based on the official result, Ukraine’s Maksym Koval took gold with a new world record of 17.34m, while his compatriot, Oleksandr Yarovyi (17.30m) settled for the silver. Greece’s Efstratios Nikolaidis (15.93m) took home the bronze.
“I really don’t know what is going on. I have done my best and I don’t even know what to say right now,” said Ziyad, who would have also set a new able-bodied national record, as his mark beat Adi Alifudin Hussin’s 17.54m set at the 2011 Sea Games in Palembang.
Former Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted: “This is a shameful decision. An absolute disgrace that goes against the spirit of the Paralympics.
“If it was a call room violation, you should not have allowed them to compete in the first place.
“Mean spirited and petty. A stolen gold medal and world record,” said Khairy, who is now the Health Minister.