The final day of the most recent edition of the Summer Paralympics Games has now come and gone. All in all, Malaysia did fairly well this time around with a handful of medals won by our proud athletes. There were, of course, ups and downs throughout the prestigious tournament, as well as some controversies to boot. But the fact of the matter is, we certainly do have an extraordinarily talented bunch that represented us well in the Paralympics 2021 (or rather 2020, time is such a confusing construct at times).
Not only did this bunch of phenomenal athletes meet the three-gold target, but they also surpassed expectations by securing additional two silvers in the Games. This would be the best-ever achievement garnered by Malaysia ever since we first competed in the first edition in 1972 in Heidelberg, Germany. Here’s a recap of our athletes’ performance at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Malaysia’s Paralympic Expedition For Gold
The first gold medal for the Malaysian contingent came courtesy of the powerlifting camp, where both its athletes, Bonnie Bunyau Gustin and Jong Yee Khie managed to secure a gold and silver medal respectively. This outing marked an impressive debut for the diminutive Bonnie, a Sarawakian who competed in the 72kg event with a record-breaking lift (228kg). Malaysia’s next gold medal then came courtesy of national men’s singles SU5 (physical impairment) shuttler, Cheah Liek Hou, who also became the inaugural Paralympic champion for his category as badminton made its debut as an event in Tokyo. Cheah overcame top seed and rival, Anrimusthi Dheva of Indonesia in a titanic clash in the finals to give the country its second gold.
Last but certainly not least, national long jumper Abdul Latif Romly gave Malaysia’s third and final gold medal in the men’s T20 (intellectual impairment) category at the Olympic Stadium. Although the long jumper had to forgo his final attempt after suffering an unfortunate injury, Abdul Latif still managed to get the gold after an outstanding performance. Kudos are also in order for Johor-born Chew Wei Lun, who made history by becoming the first Malaysian athlete to win a medal in the Paralympics in boccia when he bagged the silver. In his exceptional run, Chew also managed to rack up a six-game win streak, including four in Group B of the mixed individual BC1 (physical impairment) category before he lost to defending champion, David Smith of Great Britain in the finals.
This recent achievement by both Liek Hou and Wei Lun means that Malaysia will have bigger potential at the next edition of the Paralympics in 2024 in Paris to contribute an even bigger medal haul.
However, despite our stellar performance, there was one incident that marred our joyous occasion. It involved defending champion Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, who was denied the gold medal and record after being disqualified in the men’s shot put F20 category. He was classified as Did Not Start (DNS) following a protest lodged by the Ukrainian team. Currently, the Malaysian contingent is appealing to the Paralympics committee to reinstate Zolkefli’s status as a winning participant.