KUALA LUMPUR – National shot put champion Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli (picture) is optimistic about taking home the gold medal at the 11th Asean Para Games (APG) in Solo (Surakarta), Indonesia despite no target being set for the national contingent.
The 2016 Rio Paralympic Games gold medalist, who will be competing in the F20 shot put event, is also aiming to break his APG record.
However, the 32-year-old athlete, who won the 2013 and 2017 world titles, remains vigilant to the challenges that await him in Solo.
“Although there are strong rivals from Thailand, Brunei and Singapore, for me they provide healthy competition and I will try to break the record I set there.
“I have been ready since returning from the SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, so I will give 100 per cent in Solo later,” he told Bernama while training at the National Sports Council here, yesterday.
According to him, he is not ready to renew his controversial record at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics of 17.94 metres (m) while admitting that there are still many things to work on to repeat the feat.
“For the next world championship I aim to break the record set in Tokyo, for now, I’m still trying to regain the form I had in Tokyo,” he added.
Ziyad added that although feeling some pressure because he was a gold hopeful, he used it to get his adrenalin pumping to do his best at the games.
The last time Muhammad Ziyad competed in APG was in Kuala Lumpur where he won gold with a throw of 16.81m in 2017.
At the Hanoi SEA Games, Muhammad Ziyad won the country a bronze medal after throwing 17.20 metres (m) at the My Dinh National Stadium, last May.
Meanwhile, national long jump champion, Datuk Abdul Latif Romly said he would also pursue the mission of winning gold in his reappearance on the international stage after recovering from an injury he suffered at the Tokyo Paralympics last year.
The 25-year-old athlete from Kangar, Perlis is also trying to regain his form to compete in the T20 men’s long jump event after not competing for a long time.
“Although this is the first Games (after recovering) I really want to do my best to get gold,” he said.
Abdul Latif won the men’s T20 long jump gold at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium last year despite suffering an injury thus repeating the feat he had achieved at the same event in 2016 Rio.
The national paralympic athletes will leave on July 26 to participate in the prestigious games which will take place from July 30 to Aug 6 in Solo, Indonesia.
The ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF) confirmed that about 1,285 athletes from 11 countries would take part in 14 sports at the biennial Games, which was held for the first time after the 2017 Kuala Lumpur edition.
APG Solo involves 14 types of sports namely archery, athletics, badminton, boccia, chess, CP football, goalball, judo, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis. – Bernama