Muhammad Nur Syaiful Zulkafli has qualified for the Men’s 50m Freestyle – S5 Finals from Heat 1. He clocked a fast 33.46 to finish third behind the Chinese duo of Zheng Tao and Wang LIchao.
Zheng Tao set a Paralympic Games record of 31.81 while Lichao was timed at 33.46. The record was eclipsed by another Chinese in Heat 2 when Yuan Weiyi finished his race in 31.30.
Overall, Nur Syaiful, the world championships bronze medalist, is the fifth fastest of the eight qualifiers to the final.
His time was just short of the 33.20 he set in winning the world championships bronze in London two years ago. But it was faster than the 34.09 he set in winning the Jakarta Asian Para Games.
Having been twice disqualified in his previous events, the final gives him an opportunity to redeem himself.
Last week, he was disqualified in Heat one of the men’s 200m freestyle S5, after he was found swimming with a plaster patch on his left shoulder to cover a boil. He had actually set an Asian record in that event before being disqualified.
And a few days later, he was disqualified in the men’s 100 metres breaststroke SB4 Heats after he was found to have breached the technical requirements during the swim.
This will be the second final I Tokyo for the 26-year-old Nur Syaiful, who broke his personal record in the men’s 100m freestyle S5 final.
However, Nur Syaiful, who suffers deformity in both legs after being involved in an accident when he was 17 years old, is not going to have it easy with the Chinese looking imposing.
The Malaysian may need to shave of as much as two seconds from his previous best to get atop the podium on teh assumption that the Chinese trio set another blistering pace in the final. And there are also the likes of Brazilian legend Daniel Dias de Faria to contend with.