Indonesia 2018: Rio winners head Malaysia

Mohamad Puzi is one of the Paralympic champions in action 01 Oct 2018 By World Para Athletics

Para athletics was responsible for all four Malaysian medals (three golds and a bronze) at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and the country will be hoping for more in Indonesia at the Asian Para Games, which start on Saturday (6 October).

All six of Malaysia’s London 2017 World Para Athletics Championship team head to Indonesian capital Jakarta.

One squad member hoping to return home triumphant will be Mohamad Ridzuan Puzi, who made history when he became the first Para athlete from his home country to win Paralympic gold, winning the 100m T36 at Rio 2016.

The 31-year-old claimed silver behind teammate Mohammad Mat Lazin at the last Asian Games four years ago - sadly, the last time the pair raced together at a major event, as just three months later Mat Lazin died in a motorcycle accident.

Mohamad Puzi is the fastest T36 sprinter in the world so far this year, having clocked 12.02 seconds in May – more than half a second faster than his big rival in Jakarta, China’s Yifei Yang – than man who beat him to the world title last year.

Puzi’s medal hopes don’t stop with the 100m - he also competes in the 400m T36 and is the defending champion in the long jump T36.

More Rio champions in action

Abdul Latif Romly (long jump T20) and Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli (shot put F20) also line up at the Asian Para Games and will be favourite for gold in their respective events.

Romly, 21, made his senior international debut at Incheon 2014 and immediately made an impact, winning the men’s long jump T20. He has since won three more major titles - two world and one Paralympic gold.

Zolkefli is the defending champion in his event too – shot put F20 - and it’s hard to imagine the world and Paralympic champion, world record holder and current world number one suffering a defeat at the city’s Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium.

But it’s not just Malaysia’s experienced stars that look capable of climbing on to the podium.

Hopes are also high for vision impaired long jumper Jonathan Kar Gee Wong, who makes his Asian Para Games debut.

With a personal best of 7.22m achieved this year – a mark that would have won him gold at London 2017 - the T12 Para athlete looks set to have a big future in the sport.

Medal hopes in women's events

Malaysia’s Para athletics team also includes five women, with Siti Noor Ismail – the sole female in Malaysia’s London 2017 squad – currently topping regional rankings in the women’s long jump T20 after leaping 5.04m this season.

Ismail is the defending champion – silver medallist four years ago was teammate Siti Noor Mohamad Ariffin, who, along with fellow Malaysian Nani Shahiera Zawawi, take on the event once again.