'Absolute disgrace': Outrage over 'shameful' drama at Paralympics

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·Sports Editor
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Maksym Koval, pictured here with the gold medal after Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli was stripped.
Maksym Koval was awarded the gold medal after Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli was stripped. Image: Getty

Malaysians are raging after shot-putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli was stripped of his gold medal at the Paralympics for showing up to his event late.

Zolkefli appeared to have won gold in the F20 class on Tuesday, but was later disqualified because he had shown up late by mere minutes.

LEGEND: Dylan Alcott's epic act of class amid Paralympics heartache

'SHOCKED': Aussie athlete's kind act amid Paralympics 'disgrace'

Australia's Todd Hodgetts and Ecuadorian athlete Jordi Patricio Congo Villalba were also disqualified by officials who said they had no good reason for their late arrival at the call room.

International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence said Zolkefli and the two others - who did not make the podium - were allowed to compete under protest.

“They were late, they may have had a logical reason for being late, and therefore we allowed them to compete and look at the facts of the matter afterward," Spence said.

A statement from World Para Athletics said a referee had determined after the event that “there was no justifiable reason for the athletes' failure to report” on time and that an appeal had been turned down.

The disqualification bumped Maksym Koval of Ukraine to the gold medal position, while Ukraine teammate Oleksandr Yarovyi took silver and Efstratios Nikolaidis of Greece bronze.

According to reports, the Ukrainian team lodged the official complaint against Zolkefli.

Spence said the Ukrainian athletes were “getting a lot of abuse from Malaysians”.

“People say the Ukrainian stole the gold. No, absolutely not. The Ukrainian had nothing to do with it. It was the athletes that were late,” Spence said.

“There’s been a massive outpouring of emotion of many Malaysians on social media. Very abusive. Ridiculous, in my view.”

He said the latecomers had argued they had not heard the announcement to gather or that it was in a language they did not understand - but he noted the other athletes had managed to get there on time.

Spence said the three athletes had arrived three minutes late, saying he did not see the disqualification as a harsh penalty.

Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, pictured here in the shot put - F20 category at the Paralympic Games.
Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli competes in the shot put - F20 category at the Paralympic Games. (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

Malaysia rages over 'shameful' drama at Paralympics

However Malaysian officials and fans clearly disagree, with the country's Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin slamming the “shameful decision”.

“An absolute disgrace that goes against the spirit of the Paralympics,” he tweeted. 

“Mean spirited and petty. A stolen gold medal and world record.”

Malaysian king Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah urged “the relevant authorities to study the reasons for the disqualification … so that it will not be repeated in the future."

Zolkefli has since apologised and thanked fans for their support.

“I apologise to all Malaysians, thank you for supporting me,” he wrote on social media.

“I will rise again. Thank you for your words of encouragement.”

The F20 category in shot put is for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

with agencies

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting