KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia yesterday celebrated their first ever golds in the Paralympics, after Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi won the 100m T36 and Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli took the honours in the men's shot put F20 with a world record in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.
There was more joy for the country yesterday, when long jumper Abdul Latif Romly delivered a third gold in the T20 with a world-record leap of 7.60m.
Croatia's Zoran Talic was second (7.12m), with Dymtro Prudnikov (6.99m) of Ukraine taking bronze.
Prime Minister Najib Razak led the accolades for Saturday's winners as Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced that all Malaysian Paralympic winners will receive the same RM1 million (S$331,000) reward as an Olympian, up from RM300,000 in the past.
Malaysia had won medals at previous Paralympics, but they were silvers and bronzes.
At the Olympic Stadium on Saturday, Mohamad Ridzuan dashed across the finish line of the 100m T36 in 12.07 seconds, ahead of Yang Yifei of China (12.20sec) and Brazil's Rodrigo Parreira da Silva (12.54sec).
T36 is a category for athletes with coordination impairments and includes cerebral palsy.
Soon after, Muhammad Ziyad, a kway teow seller in Kuala Lumpur, hurled the shot to 16.84m to clinch gold on his fifth attempt. He erased the previous world record of 16.29m set by Australian Todd Hodgetts at the 2012 Paralympics.
Dimitrios Senikidis of Greece won silver with a throw of 16.17m while Hodgetts took the bronze (15.82m).
"Gold for Malaysia! This is a historical day for Malaysia. Negaraku echoes for the first time in Rio!" Prime Minister Najib said in a Facebook post.
"We have brought not one, but two gold medals! Congratulations Ridzuan Puzi & Ziyad Zolkefli who set a world record. The entire country is proud of your success!"
Khairy said the duo's deeds have given the nation immense pride and the rare achievements showed they could bring honours to the country at the Olympic level.
"Today Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world which provides equal incentives to both normal athletes and special athletes," Khairy added in his Facebook post yesterday.
"Our parathletes' achievements and sacrifices must be honoured the same as other athletes."
There were celebrations in China too as Yuan Yanping secured her third straight Paralympic judo over-70kg title as the country won another six golds in Rio on Saturday.
The 40-year-old, who was born with severe myopia, defeated Uzbekistan's Khayitjon Alimova in the final with an ippon and a yuko at Carioca Arena 3.
China remained at the top of the medal standings after the third day of competition with 26 golds, 24 silvers and 19 bronzes.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, XINHUA