Wong Kar Gee clinched a silver for Malaysia in the T12 (vision impairment) long jump competition at the World Para Athletics Championships in Doha.
The 28-year-old from Sabah jumped a distance of 7.06m in the event to finish behind Uzbekistan’s Saliev Doniyor. Doniyor took the gold with a championships record of 7.44m while Azerbaijan’s Aliyev Kamil took the bronze with a 7.00m.
The effort also earns the Malaysian a spot at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Kar Gee’s silver medal effort was well below his personal best of 7.22m. However, it was better than the 7.03m effort that gave him the gold at the Handisport Open World Grand Prix Para Athletic Tournament in Paris in August this year.
It has been a spectacular rise for Kar Gee, who won the gold in the event at the KL Asean Para Games with a leap of 6.98 in his debut at a Para athletic competition.
Prior to the KL SEA Games, Kar Gee regularly competed in the triple-jump with able-bodied athletes, and has won medals in the MSSM as well as the Malaysia Games.
Mohd Ashraf Mohd Haisham, who was competing in the 1,500m T46 (amputation) event, however, could only finish 14th in a time of 4:26.30.
The opening day of the World Para Athletics Championships was not short of any surprises. Australia and Brazil scripted some of the biggest upsets.
Debutant Rayane Soares da Silva of Brazil shocked Ukraine’s defending World Champion and Rio 2016 Paralympic medallist Leilia Adzhametova to clinch the women’s 400m T13 title.
“It was really tough because I was having a little bit of pain. I didn’t know that I was leading in the race, it starts to pain, my body, in the last metres of the race and the last 200m were the toughest. But I made it and I can’t believe it,” said the 22-year-old, who won with a personal best of 57.30.
Adzhametova’s life changed when in May 2016 she stunned then world champion Isle Hayes of South Africa. On Thursday, Adzhametova was on the receiving end as Soares Da Silva as the protagonist.
“I’m satisfied with how I made the race. I tried to show what my coach told to me and I tried to perform really well. I’m satisfied and really tired,” said a visibly dejected Adzhametova after settling for bronze clocking 57.55 seconds behind Portugal’s Carolina Duarte, who finished with a time of 57.46 seconds.
“I’m not unhappy, the Brazilian girl is a really strong rival. I respect what she did with her performance. The winner is the best one, so she is the best one in this year and in this Championships,” added the Ukrainian.
Rayane, who was beaming with excitement, revealed she was elated with her effort and looking to build on the success.
“I had two coaches who always kept telling me ‘I believe in you. I believe that you can do it, but if you don’t believe in yourself, you are not going to make it.’ Now I started to believe in myself and the result came tonight. I want to repeat the same in Tokyo 2020 and clinch that gold medal,” asserted Rayane.
In one of the most sought after events of day one ended with a new World Champion and World record.
Algeria’s Paralympic champion Abdellatif Baka arrived in Dubai as the man to beat in the 1500m T13. However, in Tokyo 2020, all eyes will be on 20-year-old Australian Jardy Clifford.
Clifford dominated the race all through and took gold with a time of 3:47.78 seconds followed by Russia’s Anton Kuliatin (3:47.91) and Baka (3:49.30).
“To get the gold medal against such a quality competition is a huge confidence for the next year. These guys are very good runners and I’m really honoured to be in a race against them, winning the gold medal,” said a jubilant Clifford.
“I could hear someone behind me and it was like this is over, but I never gave up. It was crazy when I crossed the line,” added the Australian, who last year finished seventh in the IAAF World U20 Championships in Finland.
For Russia, Kuliatin’s second place was his first medal in a World Championships in four years. The country has the biggest delegation at Dubai 2019 with 75 athletes (47 men and 26 women).
Bulgarian athletes won two golds on th eopening day. Ruzhdi Ruzhdi won the men’s Shot Put F55 (12.25) leaving Poland’s Lech Stoltman with silver (12.22) and Serbia’s Nebojsa Duric with bronze (12.15).
Hristiyan Stoyanov took gold for the Bulgarians in the men’s 1500 T46 (3:50.87) with Russia’s Aleksandr Iaremchuk in second (3:54.40) and Ethiopia’s Gemechu Dinsa in third (3:57.95).
Finland, Great Britain and Latvia were the other European winners of the day. Toni Piispanen was responsible for the Finnish gold in the men’s 100m T51 with a Championships record of 20.33.
British gold came with Paul Blake – a third world title in the men’s 800m T36 (2:07.44). Latvia’s four-time Paralympic champion Aigars Apinis regained the world title in the men’s discus throw F52 (21.05).
There were also three Asian gold medallists in the field apart from the medal won by Saliev in the men’s long jump T12.
A season best of 18.41 gave China’s Liwan Yang the victory in the women’s javelin throw F54. Iran’s Mahdi Olad established a new Asian record in the men’s shot put F11 taking gold with 14.44.