Paralympic shot putter has been STRIPED off its gold medal and new world record as Ukrainian silver and bronze medalists complained that the Malaysian winner had arrived THREE MINUTES late for the event after hearing no announcement
- A Malaysian shot putter has been stripped of his gold medal for showing up too late
- Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli showed up three minutes late with two other athletes
- He was allowed to compete and set a world record, but was later disqualified
- Maksym Koval from Ukraine got the gold medal because of the disqualification
- In recent days, an international feud has broken out between Ukraine and Malaysia
- Ukrainian Embassy for Malaysia Facebook page has been removed due to trolls
A Malaysian Paralympic shot putter was stripped of his gold medal and world record for showing up three minutes late to his event, sparking an international spat between his country and Ukraine.
Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli won gold in the F20 class final on Tuesday, but the Ukrainian athletes who finished in silver and bronze complained that the Malaysian and two others showed up late for the competition.
The three athletes were allowed to participate under protest while their lateness was investigated. Ziyad broke his own Paralympic world record with a throw of 17.93m, but was disqualified with the two others – Jordi Patricio Congo Villalba of Ecuador and Todd Hodgetts of Australia.
After an appeal from Ziyad’s team was rejected, Ukrainian Maksym Koval took the gold with compatriot Oleksandr Yarovyi claiming the silver. The Greek Efstratios Nikolaidis crept onto the podium with bronze.
Malaysian residents raved about the decision on social media and flooded the Ukrainian Embassy for Malaysia’s Facebook page with comments over the weekend calling on the country to hand over the gold to Ziyad.
Malaysian Paralympic athlete Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli was robbed of his gold medal when he showed up three minutes late for the match
The disqualification meant Ukraine’s Maksym Koval won gold, sparking an international feud between the country and Malaysia
The Facebook page has since been deleted, forcing Ukraine’s ambassador to Malaysia – Olexander Nechytaylo – to calm down residents of the Southeast Asian country.
He tweeted Monday: “Along with many Malaysian friends, I’m following Tokyo 2020: The Paralympics closely, celebrating the victory of every para-athlete and saluting their unbreakable will and determination.
I congratulate #ZiyadZolkefli on the remarkable achievement of breaking the world record in shot put F20. Indeed, he will remain a true champion in the hearts of many, not just Malaysians.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Malaysia Olexander Nechytaylo tried to appease angry Malaysians who caused embassy Facebook page to be deleted over angry comments
“There are valid questions to the organizing committee, whose slack attitude sparked the controversy. These questions need to be addressed quickly and transparently to maintain the Olympic spirit of the Games.”
In a statement from World Para Athletics, which regulates athletics for Para sports, a referee said after the event that “there was no valid reason why the athletes did not report on time.”
Comments on the embassy’s now-deleted Facebook page called the Ukrainian athletes “impostors” and described Koval’s achievement as a “stolen gold medal.”
Ziyad broke his own world record but was disqualified after the event for being late
One Facebook user commented: ‘You want to give Crimea back to Ukraine, why don’t you start returning gold to Malaysia?’
International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence has condemned social media’s “highly offensive” criticism of Ukraine, its athletes and its people following the controversy.
“We are now seeing reactions to all our social media posts that have nothing to do with the F20 men’s shot put event,” Spence said.
Ziyad, who has an intellectual disability, said he had not heard the announcement about his event and claimed it was in a language he did not understand.
‘I apologize. Rules are rules. The decision has been made. It was not the fault of the Ukrainians that the Malaysian was late.’
Spence added that the disqualified trio had arrived three minutes late and stated that most arrived at the event five minutes early.
The spokesperson revealed as an excuse from the Malaysian and the two others that they had not heard the announcement or that it was in a language they did not understand. The F20 shot put class is for athletes with intellectual disabilities.