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Shot Putter Loses Gold Because He Was 3 Minutes Late

Malaysian athlete's fate causes controversy at Paralympics
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 1, 2021 9:49 AM CDT
Shot Putter Loses Gold Because He Was 3 Minutes Late
In this Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, file photo, Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli of Malaysia reacts after competing in the men's shot put F20 final during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games at the National Stadium in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

(Newser) – Controversy at the Paralympics Games: Malaysian shot putter Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli appeared to have won gold in the shot put in the F20 class. But after the victory on Tuesday, he was disqualified because he had shown up three minutes late for the competition. International Paralympic Committee rep Craig Spence said Zolkefli and two others arrived late and were allowed to compete under protest. "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.

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Spence said an excuse given was that the Malaysian and the two others said they "didn't hear the announcement or it was in a language" they did not understand. The F20 class in shot put is for athletes with intellectual disabilities. But a statement from World Para Athletics, which governs track and field for Para sports, said a referee had determined after the event that "there was no justifiable reason for the athletes' failure to report" on time. It said an appeal was also turned down.

Spence said he said he did not see this as a harsh penalty, reports the AP. "Others get there five minutes early," he said. The disqualification bumped Maksym Koval of Ukraine up to gold, and Ukraine teammate Oleksandr Yarovyi took silver. Bronze went to Efstratios Nikolaidis of Greece. Spence said the disqualification was met with anger on social media. He described the online comments as "very abusive" and said that much of it targeted the Ukrainians. (Read more Paralympics stories.)

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