National paralympian Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli can do with all the hugs he can get for his world-class shot put performance at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Some people can do with a thump of the shot put ball to the head.
Suggestions that the disqualified Ziyad be given the RM1 million gold medal winner’s incentive or “something appropriate” for smashing the world record are careless and self-centred.
Former youth and sports minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican and the Tokyo Games chef de mission Megat D Shahriman Zaharudin tactlessly led the call to reward a rule breaker.
“As a matter of principle and personal opinion, I feel it (the winner’s allowance) is proper,” Reezal said at his first press conference as the housing and local government minister. Principle?
He added: “I believe we should celebrate his achievement and it is reasonable for the government to consider (giving) the reward (to Ziyad).” Celebrate a disqualification?
That won’t wash. That rings hollow.
It’s wrong even if Ziyad broke the world and Malaysian able-bodied records.
It’s a populist call, a cynical display of political point-scoring.
Vainglorious stunts have no place in sports. Respect for the rules and discipline are paramount.
Such knee-jerk reactions cheapen the individual sacrifices made by other athletes and give root to bias and double standards.
Would Ziyad feel comfortable with the proposed financial reward? Would he feel genuinely honoured?
How would other athletes view an ill-advised reward?
Of course, we should all strive to be kind but emotions should not feature in this Ziyad fiasco. Facts should.
Did Malaysian officials tip-toe away from the blunder?
No one is saying why the Malaysian officials did not ensure Ziyad, our biggest star at the Games, would be on time for the event.
Megat’s argument that Ziyad did not hear the announcement to report to the call room or it was in a language he did not understand is lame.
He should have raised the matter at the meeting of chef de missions if a certain language was a problem to his athlete.
Why were we led to believe that a protest by Ukraine led to Ziyad being stripped of the gold when it was his fault for turning up late at the call room?
The untruth ruined the nation’s reputation on Merdeka Day with International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence saying:
“People say the Ukrainian stole the gold. No, absolutely not. The Ukrainian had nothing to do with it. It was the athletes (Ziyad and two others) who were late.
“There’s been a massive outpouring of emotion from many Malaysians on social media. Very abusive. Ridiculous, in my view.”
It was absurd for Khairy Jamaluddin to rage that Ziyad should not have been deprived of his win over a technicality when he should as a minister know that rules are there for fairplay, order and decorum.
The former youth and sports minister, who now holds the health portfolio, went on to say the decision to disqualify Ziyad was “disgraceful” and went against the very spirit of the Paralympics.
Somebody should have told him to pipe down as this was not a minor transgression.
But then you wouldn’t expect ministers to embrace punctuality.
Someone needs to say it: Ziyad should not receive a sen as incentive.
Disclaimer – The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.