Controversial disqualification of Malaysian shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, gold medalist at Maksym Koval

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The International Paralympic Committee defended its decision to disqualify a Malaysian shot putter for showing up late, which saw him withdraw a gold medal, as anger erupted in his homeland.

Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli was cleared for the F20 final in Tokyo on Tuesday despite his delay, and won a gold medal with a throw of 17.34 meters, breaking his own world record.

But he was later disqualified, along with Australia’s Todd Hodgetts and Ecuador’s Jordi Patricio Congo Villalba, by officials who determined they had no valid reason for their late arrival at the call room.

Gold went instead to Ukrainian Maksym Koval, with compatriot Oleksandr Yarovyi winning silver.

According to a Malaysian media report The star, it was the Ukrainian team that filed the official complaint against Ziyad.

Maksym Koval with his controversial gold medal. Photo by Carmen Mandato / Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence said a referee determined there was “no justifiable reason” for Ziyad to show up late, and an appeal was subsequently dismissed.

Despite this, Spence said Ukrainian athlete Koval “was unfairly suffering a lot of abuse from the Malaysians”.

“People say the Ukrainian stole the gold. Absolutely not. The Ukrainian had nothing to do with it. It was the athletes who were late, ”said Spence.

“There has been a huge wave of emotion from many Malaysians on social media. Very abusive. Ridiculous, in my opinion.

Spence said the latecomers argued that they did not hear the announcement to assemble or that it was in a language they did not understand, but noted that the other athletes managed to arrive on time.

Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli won gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Photo by Allsport Co./Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

The F20 shot put category is reserved for athletes with an intellectual disability. But on social media, critics have shown no sign of accepting the disqualification of Ziyad, who won gold at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016, with Malaysian Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin condemning the “shameful decision” .

“An absolute shame that goes against the spirit of the Paralympic Games,” he tweeted. “My mean and mean. A stolen gold medal and a world record.

Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah also urged “the relevant authorities to investigate the reasons for the disqualification … so that it does not happen again in the future,” according to a palace statement.

The widely revered monarch was “proud of (Ziyad’s) achievements and performances,” the statement added.

Ziyad himself posted a short message on Instagram to apologize and thank the Malaysians for their support.

“I apologize to all Malaysians, thank you for supporting me,” he wrote.

“I will get up. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

Malaysian cycling fans blasted Australia’s Matthew Glaetzer on social media last month after his blunder in the men’s keirin final deprived Malaysian star Azizulhasni Awang of a chance to win Olympic gold in Tokyo .

– with AFP

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