Malaysian shot put star stripped of gold medal for being 3 minutes late
Para-athlete Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli was on the receiving end of an unlucky decision that disqualified him.
Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli of Malaysia had won the gold medal in the Men's Shot put F20 category at the Tokyo Paralympics, and also had broken the world record with a throw of 17.94m. In an unfortunate turn of events, the celebrations were short-lived for the shot-putter as his gold medal and world record was taken away on the grounds of tardiness.
Zolkefli was late to the reporting of the event by a mere 3 minutes. This is the reason stated by the authorities which makes him ineligible to be the recipient of such honours. Along with him, there were two more athletes who had appeared late to the event, but the 31-year old was the only one to throw a medal-worthy shot.
The para-athlete first came under the spotlight back in 2016, when he won his country's first Paralympic gold medal at the Rio games. His effort of 16.84m was enough to make him the holder of the then world record. In 2017, he bettered his own world record with a mammoth 17.29m at the London World Championships. The news of his achievements had made the rounds in social media which brought him and his country worldwide praise.
The hard work which he had put in to win his second Paralympics gold for the past 5 years was made null in a matter of seconds. Initially, Zolkefli wasn't being allowed to participate but after an explanation from the athlete, that was deemed logical by the governing authorities, he was allowed to compete. It was after his podium finish that athletes from the Ukrainian team complained against the Malaysian.
After considering the complaint lodged, Zolkefli was disqualified. This meant that the gold medal was awarded to Ukraine's Maksym Koval, while his compatriot won the silver. A pertinent question arises from this scenario- If the Malaysian athlete had breached the rules and regulations then why let him participate in the first place and then strip the honours off of him?
While messages of support and solidarity for Zolkefli are circulated online, an equal amount of abuse is being meted out to the Ukrainians. According to a Malaysian news outlet, the athlete's appeal has been turned down by the World Para Athletics, which leaves the Paralympics gold medallist in a hapless position.