Tokyo’s Paralympic Games ended last week. Yet, shot put athlete Muhammad Ziyad bin Zolkefli is still on everyone’s minds. Ziyad became the pride of Malaysia after he won a gold medal and broke the world record during the F20 men’s shot put event. However, it was short lived.
Ziyad was disqualified on the grounds he had been late in entering the call area. Although they argued the decision, ultimately, Ziyad lost the medal. There was also a rumour that Ziyad had actually admitted he was late. But on 6th September, the athlete took to Instagram to dispel the rumour.
According to Ziyad, he had been confused when asked why didn’t his coach just admit he was late. “Some said I was late because I was busy phoning my family… (how frustrating),” he said.
The 31-year-old firmly denied that he had been late. In fact, he stated that this had all been a misunderstanding. “After my results were retracted, I met with my coach. He informed me that the referee claimed I had been late by two minutes,” Ziyad explained. He later informed his wife about the situation, relaying what the referee had said. However, it appears his retelling of events was taken as an admission instead. “Maybe this is where the misunderstanding is,” he said. “(It’s) as if I admitted I was late because I was on the phone with my family.”
The athlete stressed that he had not been late, not even by two minutes. “I am confident my coach and I arrived exactly on time at 5.55pm,” he stated. “That is all.” His explanation on Instagram was just to clarify matters and hopefully put the rumour to rest.
The comments were filled with Malaysians assuring the shot put athlete that they believe him. Many also encouraged the athlete to take back his gold medal in the following Paralympics.
Although the situation now cannot be changed, we trust Ziyad will come back even stronger in Paris 2024. This time, he may even be earlier than expected to avoid the “mistake” of being “two minutes late”.