How This Malaysian Went From Being A 'Nasi Lemak Boy' To A Paralympic Gold Medallist

A story of true grit and perseverance.

Cover image via @WahyuYordan/Reuters via MMO

Last year, the nation celebrated the Malaysian Paralympic heroes who made the nation proud.

One of them was Ridzuan Puzi, who made history by winning Malaysia's first ever gold medal at the Paralympic Games.

Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi

Image via Reuters via MMO

Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi, fondly known as Dek Wan, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was one-year-old.

With hardwork and tenacity, Ridzuan made headlines when he emerged as the gold medalist for the 100m T36 (celebral palsy) event during the Rio Paralympic Games last year.

Tears of joy fell when Malaysia's national anthem, 'Negaraku', was played at the prestigious game, as Malaysians from all walks of life celebrated his victory.

Behind every success, there is a story and this is Ridzuan's

A netizen took to Twitter recently to share about the hardships that the Perlis-born athlete had to endure before becoming a world champion.

In a series of tweets, a twitter user known as Wahyu Illahi shed light on how a man from a kampung discovered Ridzuan and helped him grow his potentials as an athlete.

Wahyu shared how coach Affizam Amdan has stood by Ridzuan as he watched the young man overcome his physical limitations to build his stamina and strengthen the muscles in his thin body

It all started in 2004, when Ridzuan was discovered in a talent search organised by the Youth and Sports Ministry.

Affizam, a staff at the Perlis Social Welfare Department, was working as volunteer and coaching OKU (persons with disabilities) athletes.

It is believed that Ridzuan's father had sent him sent to undergo training for furniture-making skills at a workshop in Cuping, Perlis. His father had hoped that Ridzuan not only learn how to make furnitures, but also learn how to take care of himself.

Affizam spotted his talent and dedicated the next two years to fetching Ridzuan back and forth from the workshops to trainings and back home. Later, the transportation woes were resolved when the government allocated a place and the means for Ridzuan and other athletes in similar situations to make a living and have shelter.

He stayed by Ridzuan's side and continued grooming him until 2010.

Ridzuan was also persistent in his journey that has been one of blood, sweat, and tears.

He used to man a nasi lemak stall with his friends to earn RM15 a day.

Ridzuan used to sell nasi lemak in the mornings and burgers at nights.

Image via #WahyuYordan

Wahyu tweeted about how Ridzuan and his friends sold nasi lemak and made burgers just to earn some pocket money. They did all kinds of chores, including washing dishes and cleaning the stall.

That was Ridzuan's daily routine while he worked hard to pursue his dreams as a sprint king.

The boys lived together in a simple room with a bunk bed, a ceiling fan, a slim wooden cupboard, and a 14-inch television. The small room was renovated by Affizam using his own money for their comfort and entertainment.

Now, they can only look back and reminisce the good time they shared together as the place was demolished after Hari Raya Haji last year to make way for new developments.

The place where Ridzuan used to live with his friends have been demolished.

Image via @WahyuYordan

Throughout his journey, Ridzuan was fortunate to have met many kind people like Affizam

Ridzuan (right) met Chuah Heng Oon and gave him a hug.

Image via @WahyuYordan

Chuah Heng Oon, a lorry driver, received news that Ridzuan was looking for someone who could sponsor a new pair of shoes that costs about RM200 because he could not afford them and his old shoes were worn out.

The 57-year-old man responded by gifting Ridzuan a nice and expensive pair of new shoes.

Not long after that, Ridzuan was selected to become a national athlete.

Ridzuan did not forget Chuah's kind deed, as he remembered to thank the man who gave him the shoes after winning the gold medal at the Paralympic Games last year.

Wahyu also mentioned national coach R. Jeganathan, who nurtured Ridzuan into winning his first Paralympic gold

R. Jeganathan (left) is said to have regarded Ridzuan like his own son.

Image via @WahyuYordan

Jeganathan, who regarded Ridzuan as his own son, was apparently very strict during trainings.

When Ridzuan was crowned as the Rio Paralympics gold medallist last year, Jeganathan fought back tears as he told his protégé, "This is my son. Thank you, thank you. I may push you and shout at you but this is the outcome."

Wahyu said that these people - Affizam, Jeganathan, and Chuah - have played a major part in shaping Ridzuan to become a world champion.

"Thank you, coach Affizam. Thank you, coach Jeganathan. Thank you, Uncle Heng Oon. Thank you Malaysians for your support," he wrote in a tweet.

Coach Affizam (left) posing for a photo with Ridzuan.

Image via InTrend

Ridzuan has definitely come a long way since his days as a young man who struggled to take care of himself

Wahyu pointed out that Ridzuan cannot even spell his own name but the man is very driven and determined.

"He may be born disabled and imperfect. But remember, those imperfections are not barriers to success," he wrote.

"Who would have thought that a person with cerebral palsy will be able to shake the world and make the nation proud on the world stage. Thank you, Dek Wan."

We totally salute Ridzuan for doing his best for #negaraku and admire his spirit of excellence!

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