Malaysian Paralympic Abdul Latif Romly, 19, was born with learning disability. His parents didn’t give up on him. Their love and guidance for their son, who they fondly call ‘naughty boy’, helped to take him to the pinnacle of his pursuit.
Abdul Latif landed Malaysia’s third gold Malaysia clinching its third gold at the 2016 Paralympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro yesterday. The Malaysian beat 11 competitors with a jump of 7.60m in the long jump T20 (learning disability) event for the gold.
Instead of viewing it as a handicapped, his family took his disability as a challenge and as accepted it as fate. His mother, Salmah Yatim, 58, said the learning disability was a blessing for her and his achievement was outstanding.
“I am overwhelmed, it is like a dream seeing my son who was quite a naughty boy make such a great achievement, he makes us proud,” she said.
Abdul Latif, who is from Kampung Paya Kelubi in Arau, rewrote his world record, erasing the old mark of 7.35m which he set at the IPC World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar last year.
A humble kuey teow seller in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur, showed the world his mettle and realised his full potential when by winning Malaysia’s second gold medal with a new world record in the shot put F20 (intellectual disability) event.
Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli Othman, 26, created a new world record with a throw of 16.84 metres in his fifth attempt. He dedicated his gold to his family and country. It was a fitting birthday present for his father, Zolkefli Othman.
Zolkefli turned 62 on Sept 1, the day he had sent his son to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to join the Malaysian Paralympic contingent before leaving for the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Ziyad does not like to trouble people, he is very independent and is a very good cook. Before he joined the National Sports Council, Ziyad was selling kueh teow in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman,” said the proud father.
“I still remember when my son was taught to read when he was in Year Five by an Indian teacher until he got number three in the class. Ziyad is surrounded by people who love him, his sporting talent was spotted and assisted by a Chinese teacher in Kelantan. Until today, the teacher still follows his development.
“This is what sports is all about. There is no race or religion. Hard work pays off. I wish to thank all the people and kind hearts who supported him and prayed for his success. All his hard work and sacrifices has been rewarded.”
Malaysia’s first gold at the Paralympics was clinched by Mohamad Ridzuan Mohd Puzi in the 100m T36 (cerebral palsy) event.
Mohamad Ridzuan clocked 12.07sec to erase the old Paralympics record of 12.25sec set by Roman Pavlyk from Ukraine at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
The Paralympians showed us that they are on equal footing as able-bodied athletes. The tougher the struggles they faced, the more glorious their triumphs are. They deserve the same recognition given to our Olympians for their achievements at the Rio Games.
Malaysia has 21 disabled athletes participating at the Rio Paralympic Games from Sept 7 to 18 in athletics, weightlifting, archery, table tennis, sailing, tennis and swimming.
Since debuting at the 1972 Paralympics in Heidelberg, West Germany, Malaysia has won two silver and five bronze medals in four previous outings at the Paralympics.