THE Malaysian team at the World Para Athletics Championships in London will leave for home today, with more medals than expected and a soaring hope for more at the Para Asean Games in Kuala Lumpur in September.
Head coach Jaganathan Ramasamy said he was happy with the performances of the athletes as the Malaysians will return with a championship record, Asia record and world record.
“We came with the expectation of two gold medals but I am happy that we now also have a silver medal to take home,” said Ramasamy at the Queen Elizabeth Park stadium after the men’s 100m final where Rio Paralympic gold medallist Ridzuan Puzi finished second to China’s Yang Yifei.
Ridzuan, who was born with cerebral palsy, clocked a season’s best of 12.15 seconds in the 100m T36.
“I believe that if not for a false start, Ridzuan would have won the gold medal.
“He became tense after the false start. That disturbed his mental preparation.
“Although he had a slow start, he managed to catch up in spite of a hamstring pain. He caught up very fast,” said Ramasamy, who is hopeful that Ridzuan will shine in the Para Asean Games.
“I have coached Ridzuan for eight years.
“It is a great challenge for me but once you understand him and love him, it is easy. I treat him like my own son.”
Ramasamy said the team’ s initial target of two gold in London was for shot putter Ziyad Zolkefli and long jumper Latif Romly.
“We a had fifty-fifty hope for Ridzuan.
“If not for the false start , he would have gotten the gold.”
Ridzuan said he was satisfied with his performance and promised to do better in the next championship where he will participate in the 100m, 200m and 400m.
Ziyad, who broke his own world record in the men’s shot put F20 (learning disability), said: “I am looking forward to the Sea Games where I am competing against able bodied athletes.
“I do not want to participate (in the Sea Games) because people took pity on me but because of merit. I have qualified on that,” he said while thanking his coaches for their confidence and patience with him.
Latif, who won the long jump gold at the World Para Championships, said he was happy to have successfully defended his title.
“I will have to train a lot harder now as there are more and more competitive participants, “he said.