KUALA LUMPUR: It will be an uphill task for national elite Paralympic athlete, Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi in his bid to defend the gold medal he won at the 2016 Rio Paralympics in the Tokyo Paralympics Games, in August.
National para-athletics chief coach R. Jeganathan reminded Mohamad Ridzuan to keep an eye on his two major challengers, James Turner of Australia and China’s Yang Yifei, as both of them managed to get past him in the 100m T36 (cerebral palsy) category at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Nevertheless, Jeganathan is working extra hard to ensure that Mohamad Ridzuan or fondly known as ‘Dik Wan’, gives the ‘best run of his life’ in Japan’s capital city.
“Of course, he is one of our medal prospects in Tokyo. But I don’t stress on what kind of medal that he will give us, as he will be running against much younger athletes (Turner and Yifei).
“This is because Mohamad Ridzuan is 33 years old now and not many people know that as a cerebral palsy patient, his muscles and tendons will be tense as he grows older,” he told Bernama recently.
Turner not only secure a gold medal in the Dubai meet, he also smashed the world record set by Mohamad Ridzuan in the 2018 Jakarta Asian Para Games (11.87s) after clocking 11.72s, while Yifei claimed silver with a new Asian mark of 11.79s.
Mohamad Ridzuan had to settle for the bronze medal as he posted 11.97s in the tournament.
In the meantime, Jeganathan hoped that the Perlis-born athlete will compete in the Beijing 2021 Grand Prix in China in June, should the event go on as schedule.
“The Beijing meet was supposed to be held April but it was postponed to June due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope it will go on in June as this will be the last international event before the Paralympics Games in Tokyo,” he added.
He is also pleased with Mohamad Ridzuan’s determination in the training and is glad to see the 2018 Best Asian Male Athlete from the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) in Dubai, not sustaining any injuries so far.
“I am very satisfied as the training went on smoothly so far and I hope he will keep up the momentum and in the best shape ahead of the Paralympics Games,” he said.
Apart from Mohamad Ridzuan, three other para-athletes, Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli (shot put F20), Abdul Latif Romly (long jump F20) and Jonathan Wong Kar Gee (long jump T12) — have qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics after winning medals at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai. – Bernama