sports

Ziyad Zolkefli Robbed Of Gold At Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Due To Technicality

The incident sparked outrage online, while an appeal by Malaysia has since been rejected.

Cover image via Bernama/Harian Metro & Paralympic

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Malaysian hero Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli had smashed the competition in the men's shot put F20 event at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, breaking his own world records along the way

The reigning Paralympic gold medallist had thrown a herculean 17.31m in his first attempt, which had marked a new world record.

Ziyad then went on to extend the record even further, with a stunning 17.94m in his third throw.

In fact, his lesser fourth effort of 17.62m would have also been enough to clinch the gold medal, as second placed Koval Maksym only managed 17.34m at best.

Prior to this day, Ziyad had held the world record for over five years, after throwing a 17.29m at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championship, a title he consolidated after throwing a then-record 16.84m at Rio 2016.


Image via Bernama

However, before the dust had settled, the Ukrainian team contested Ziyad's participation due to a technicality

It was reported by The Star that the protestations were based on the fact Ziyad was late to report to the Call Room prior to the event.

The Ukrainian camp had also asserted the same of the para-athletes from Australia and Ecuador.

The Call Room is a pre-event briefing session in which the participants of a particular event are briefed and marks the official start-point of the competition.

Ziyad, along with the other two contested athletes, were then swiftly disqualified and classified as 'Did Not Start' (DNS).

The final standings of the Men's shot put F20.

Image via Paralympic

The decision immediately sparked widespread condemnation online

Replying to a Paralympic Games tweet, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that the decision was "shameful".

"An absolute disgrace that goes against the spirit of the Paralympics," he continued, adding, "If it was a call room violation you should have not allowed them to compete in the first place."

"Mean spirited and petty. A stolen gold medal and world record."

His sentiments were echoed by Lembah Pantai member of Parliament Fahmi Fadzil, national gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, and everyday Malaysians saying the outcome was farcical.

Malaysia launched a counter-protest alongside the wronged athletes, even offering closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage as evidence.

However, the appeal was dismissed outright.

The freshly-minted Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu – also known as 'Peja' – tweeted in the aftermath that Malaysia, Australia, and Ecuador will contest the decision at the chefs de mission (CDM) meeting earlier today, 1 September.

According to Berita Harian, Peja elaborated that a summary protest was submitted before the night was over, which included CCTV recordings from inside and outside the Call Room.

Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

Image via Utusan Malaysia

However, in an official statement by World Para Athletics, the appeals were rejected outright.

"The decision was based on World Para Athletics Rule 5.5 – 'Failure to Report to the Call Room' which states that in case athletes are not present in the Call Room at the relevant time as published in the Call Room schedule they will be shown in the results as DNS (Did Not Start)," read the statement.

"In accordance with this Rule, the athletes were allowed to compete under protest while the Referee considered all the evidence as to why the athletes were late to the Call Room. Having considered the evidence, the Referee determined that there was no justifiable reason for the athletes' failure to report to the Call Room on time."

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