8 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Man Who Gave Us Our First Paralympic Gold
By now, you would have heard about Ridzuan Puzi, the Paralympian who made history as the FIRST Malaysian athlete to score a Gold medal at the Paralympic Games
Ridzuan's accomplishment at the Rio Paralympics was nothing short of amazing. Crossing the line at a time of 12.07 seconds in the 100m T36 (cerebral palsy), he managed to erase the previous record of 12.25 seconds by Roman Pavlyk of Ukraine at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
Like many world-class athletes, Ridzuan's success in Rio is the accumulation of years and years of training, partnered with unwavering determination and focus
How much do we know about this remarkable athlete? Did you know he hails from Perlis? And that he was voted Paralympic Athlete of the Year in 2015?
1. Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi, 28, was born in Padang Besar, Perlis
He was born on 27 September 1987 to Mohamad Puzi Mohamad Mat Isa and Laila Ali. He is the second of three children.
Mohamad Puzi, works as a driver in Felda Rimba Mas, Padang Besar while his wife is a housewife.
2. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of one
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). CP is caused by brain damage that happens before or during a baby's birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child's life.
But the disorder didn't stop him from chasing his dreams.
"The entire family is proud and grateful for the achievement of Ridzuan. Blessed with the spirit of perseverance, he trained tirelessly to give himself a better future as he was born with cerebral palsy," Mohammed Puzi told Bernama after his son's historic win at Rio.
3. In his early years, he took part in athletics during school meets and was talent-spotted by coach Affizam Amdan
Affizam Amdan, a voluntary coach, spotted Ridzuan's potential to be an exceptional athlete in one of the school meets that he took part in. Acting as his personal coach, Affizam has been guiding, grooming and training him since 2006 and he still gives advice to Ridzuan every now and then.
"I've always believed Ridzuan can do it, he just needed motivation and encouragement," he said in an interview with Berita Harian.
4. National coach R. Jeganathan sees Ridzuan as 'his son'
R. Jeganathan, who has been coaching normal athletes and Paralympic athletes for almost 20 years, would often push Ridzuan very hard during training sessions. At times, he would even scold Ridzuan if he didn't perform.
Recently, a tender and touching moment between the two was captured by ERA FM where the passionate coach broke down and embraced Ridzuan.
Who's cutting onions?
5. Prior to Rio, Ridzuan had always excelled in professional athletics and recorded successes in other games such as the World Athletics Championships
His most memorable achievement to date is his first gold medal at the 2011 Asian Para Games in Surakarta, Indonesia.
5 years later, he finished the 100m T36 (cerebral palsy) with a gold medal at the IPC World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. The 28-year old registered 12.08s to win the gold medal.
Last year at the Para Asean Games, Ridzuan clinched the first spot when he crossed the finish line in 12.01 seconds.
6. He received the 2015 Kesatria Terbilang Award from UMNO for his achievements
"This award is a boost to my spirit. I am excited and it will be an inspiration for my preparation to the Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil in September next year," he said when receiving the award last year.
7. He was voted Paralympic Athlete of the Year at the 2015 Malaysian National Sports Awards
He won the award following the success of winning the gold medal at the IPC World Athletics Championships in Qatar for the 100m (T36) and ASEAN Para Games (APG) in Singapore in the 100m and 200m (T36) events.
8. In preparation for the Rio Paralympics, he was given the opportunity to receive extensive training from experts in Germany
Well, we know that the training has really paid off. :)
Ridzuan, you've certainly come a long way and we're very proud of what you've achieved! You're a champ!
Thank you for being such an inspiration too! :')