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Malaysia to give Paralympic gold medallists same RM1 million cash reward offered to Olympians

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s two Paralympic gold medallists will receive the exact RM1 million reward (S$331,108) offered to their able-bodied counterparts, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin reiterated on Sunday (Sept 11).

Malaysia to give Paralympic gold medallists same RM1 million cash reward offered to Olympians

Gold medalist Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli of Malaysia celebrate on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Men's Shot Put F20 Final during day 3 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s two Paralympic gold medallists will receive the exact RM1 million reward (S$331,108) offered to their able-bodied counterparts, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin reiterated on Sunday (Sept 11).

Mr Khairy also said his previous decision to raise the reward for Paralympic medals to be on par with the Olympics was inspired by Mr Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, who coincidentally won Malaysia’s second gold medal at the Rio Paralympics and set a world record at the same time.

“Our para athletes’ achievements and sacrifices must be honoured the same as other athletes. Not 30 per cent of ‘normal’ athletes,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“I would not know how to feel 30 per cent proud of them. I only feel 100 per cent proud of our para heroes. They have shown us that yes, they are not ordinary. They are extraordinary.”

In the post, Mr Khairy recounted how, in his early days as youth and sports minister, he was informed that a national athlete named Ziyad Zolkefli had won an international event in Lyon, France.

When he asked his officials to prepare Mr Ziyad’s reward, Mr Khairy said he was told para-athletes were entitled to 30 per cent of the prize offered to their able-bodied counterparts. Mr Khairy said he then pushed for this to be equalised, but that his proposal was met with resistance.

Mr Khairy said he finally made the decision when local sports authorities could not state if they understood the challenges of becoming an international-level sportsmen while having a disability.

“Thank you, Ziyad, for giving me the strength to change the treatment of para-athletes three years ago. Today, Malaysia is one of the only countries in the world that gives the same incentive to ordinary athletes and ‘extraordinary’ ones,” he said.

Malaysia rewards Olympic and Paralympic athletes with RM1 million for a gold medal, RM500,000 for a silver and RM100,000 for a bronze.

In addition, they also receive a lifetime monthly pension of RM5,000 for a gold medal, RM3,000 for the silver, and RM2,000 for the bronze.

Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi delivered Malaysia’s first-ever gold medal at the Paralympics on Saturday by winning the 100m T36 event with a time of 12.07s.

The country’s joy was doubled shortly after when Ziyad took the top spot in the shot put F20 (intellectual disability) event with his world record 16.84m.

Malaysia has a chance for a third gold medal on Sunday when Abdul Latif Romli competes in the final of the men’s long jump T20 event. THE MALAY MAIL ONLINE

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