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8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Man Who Gave Us Our First Paralympic Gold

By now, you would have heard about Ridzuan Puzi, the Paralympian who made history as the FIRST Malaysian athlete to score a Gold medal at the Paralympic Games

Image via KBS Malaysia

Ridzuan’s accomplishment at the Rio Paralympics was nothing short of amazing. Crossing the line at a time of 12.07 seconds in the 100m T36 (cerebral palsy), he managed to erase the previous record of 12.25 seconds by Roman Pavlyk of Ukraine at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

Ridzuan’s top notch performance, alongside shot putter Ziyad and long jumper Abdul Latif, brought tears of joy to Malaysians worldwide


— Khairy Jamaluddin (@Khairykj) September 10, 2016

Honestly, I can’t hold my tears back when ‘Negaraku’ echoed in Rio for the 2nd time. Thank you Ziyad and Ridzuan! https://t.co/B0aJKdvsey

— Norman Goh (@imnormgoh) September 11, 2016

I am literally shed tears out of joy having our two paralympians made our #Negaraku at #Rio2016.Despites of many obstacles, we do have hope

— al-Serembani Studio (@serembani) September 11, 2016

We heard the ‘Negaraku’ play in the Paralympics for the first time!

When Ridzuan took the podium for Negaraku, even those who were watching from their smartphones stood in the middle of their bedroom. Pride.

— Mutella (@mumuedstar) September 11, 2016

Like many world-class athletes, Ridzuan’s success in Rio is the accumulation of years and years of training, partnered with unwavering determination and focus

Image via CNN

How much do we know about this remarkable athlete? Did you know he hails from Perlis? And that he was voted Paralympic Athlete of the Year in 2015?

1. Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi, 28, was born in Padang Besar, Perlis

Laila Ali (left) and Mohamad Puzi (right)
Image via Berita Harian

He was born on 27 September 1987 to Mohamad Puzi Mohamad Mat Isa and Laila Ali. He is the second of three children.

Mohamad Puzi, works as a driver in Felda Rimba Mas, Padang Besar while his wife is a housewife.

2. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of one

Image via YouTube

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). CP is caused by brain damage that happens before or during a baby’s birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child’s life.

But the disorder didn’t stop him from chasing his dreams.

“The entire family is proud and grateful for the achievement of Ridzuan. Blessed with the spirit of perseverance, he trained tirelessly to give himself a better future as he was born with cerebral palsy,” Mohammed Puzi told Bernama after his son’s historic win at Rio.

3. In his early years, he took part in athletics during school meets and was talent-spotted by coach Affizam Amdan

Image via MStar

Affizam Amdan, a voluntary coach, spotted Ridzuan’s potential to be an exceptional athlete in one of the school meets that he took part in. Acting as his personal coach, Affizam has been guiding, grooming and training him since 2006 and he still gives advice to Ridzuan every now and then.

“I’ve always believed Ridzuan can do it, he just needed motivation and encouragement,” he said in an interview with Berita Harian.

4. National coach R. Jeganathan sees Ridzuan as ‘his son’

Coach R. Jeganathan gave Ridzuan a kiss after his win
Image via World of Buzz

R. Jeganathan, who has been coaching normal athletes and Paralympic athletes for almost 20 years, would often push Ridzuan very hard during training sessions. At times, he would even scold Ridzuan if he didn’t perform.

Recently, a tender and touching moment between the two was captured by ERA FM where the passionate coach broke down and embraced Ridzuan.

Who’s cutting onions?

5. Prior to Rio, Ridzuan had always excelled in professional athletics and recorded successes in other games such as the World Athletics Championships

Image via Astro Awani

His most memorable achievement to date is his first gold medal at the 2011 Asian Para Games in Surakarta, Indonesia.

5 years later, he finished the 100m T36 (cerebral palsy) with a gold medal at the IPC World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. The 28-year old registered 12.08s to win the gold medal.

Last year at the Para Asean Games, Ridzuan clinched the first spot when he crossed the finish line in 12.01 seconds.

6. He received the 2015 Kesatria Terbilang Award from UMNO for his achievements

Image via The Sun Daily

“This award is a boost to my spirit. I am excited and it will be an inspiration for my preparation to the Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil in September next year,” he said when receiving the award last year.

7. He was voted Paralympic Athlete of the Year at the 2015 Malaysian National Sports Awards

Image via Look News

He won the award following the success of winning the gold medal at the IPC World Athletics Championships in Qatar for the 100m (T36) and ASEAN Para Games (APG) in Singapore in the 100m and 200m (T36) events.

8. In preparation for the Rio Paralympics, he was given the opportunity to receive extensive training from experts in Germany

Image via The Malay Mail Online

Well, we know that the training has really paid off. 🙂

Ridzuan, you’ve certainly come a long way and we’re very proud of what you’ve achieved! You’re a champ!

Image via ERA FM

Thank you for being such an inspiration too! :’)

Watch our athletes sing the ‘Negaraku’ on the Paralympic podium. Yes, you will tear up. Guaranteed.

Aside from being an awesome athlete, Ziyad is also a very good cook!

19-year-old Abdul Latif clinched Malaysia’s third gold at the Rio Paralympics:

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