KUALA LUMPUR: It was happiness beyond words for athletics chief coach R Jaganathan in regard to the gold medal achievements of his charges at the Paralympic Games in Rio.
“I am very happy with their performance and success. I cannot express how happy I am,” R Jaganathan told Bernama.
Speaking of the victory of Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi, Jaganathan said he was uneasy initially when the athlete did not do a proper warm up.
“Frankly, I was afraid he may not perform well. His warm up was not very good…but he surprised us all,” he said.
Mohamad Ridzuan gave Malaysia its first gold medal in Paralympic Games history in the men’s 100m T36 (cerebral palsy) event.
In the race at the Olympic Stadium, Mohamad Ridzuan clocked 12.07 seconds, erasing the earlier record of 12.25 seconds by Roman Pavlyk of Ukraine at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
“When he (Mohamad Ridzuan) was the first to cross the finishing line, I cried. The pressure on us and myself was just too great… after all this is Malaysia’s first gold medal.
“This is his sacrifice and all parties had to leave their families for this (gold medal),” said Jaganathan.
One hour after Mohamad Ridzuan’s victory, Malaysia was again rewarded with another gold medal, this time from Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli in the men’s shot put F20 (intellectual disability) event.
The London Paralympics bronze medallist also set a new world record with his first throw of 16.4m, which rewrote the previous record of 16.29m by Todd Hodgetts of Australia, also set in London.
The 26-year-old athlete continued his outstanding performance to improve the world record to achieve a distance of 16.84m in his fifth throw.
In KANGAR, Affizam Amdan, 45, the man who first discovered and trained Mohamad Ridzuan, said he shed tears when he saw the brilliant run by his protegé.
He said Mohamad Ridzuan refused to be written off despite his shortcomings and it was sheer perseverance that he overcame all obstacles.
According to Affizam, Mohamad Ridzuan later got the attention of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Shahidan Kassim who saw that he was coached professionally by the National Sports Council in 2013.
“Seeing the development of Ridzuan, I was touched and satisfied when he succeeded in moving out of poverty and building himself a brighter future despite his condition,” he said.