No, this is not William Shakespeare’s famous question. His was, “To be or not to be”(“?” was an after thought). In today’s local news, “Late or not?” is the trending and interesting question.

Muhammad Ziyad Langgar Pantang Pagi Aidilfitri - Sukan | mStar
Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, shot putter athlete

My views are based on Bernama’s news report, “Tokyo Paralympics: National shot putter Ziyad apologises to Malaysians after disqualification” (September 1st, 2021).

First of all, Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, besides being a national athlete; is an international athlete. From what I have read in news about him; he has been consistent in his performance since the last Paralympics in 2016, i.e. he has been on the top of the charts all this while. Kudos to him.

At his event in the Tokyo Paralympics on August 31st 2021, he won Gold and broke the world record not once but twice; the latest at 17.94m. Or did he?

According to Bernama’s article, Ziyad has been classified as “Did Not Start” (DNS) due to a protest lodged against him by the Ukrainian team who claimed that he reported late to the call room before the event got underway.

It went on to state… “Then disaster struck as Ukraine lodged the protest with the technical committee, who then disqualified Muhammad Ziyad and the two others for supposedly being late to enter the call room.”

Statements like, “claimed that he reported late” and “supposedly being late”, seems to be a choice of words to mislead the Malaysian public that there is doubt that he was late in the first place. It may seem that there is bias against this athlete.

The question is, “Was he late? (or not?” – general Malaysian style of questioning). From what we read in other press reports, he was. His team manager should have ensured that he was on time for registration. By answering this question, it would put to rest doubts that this Bernama article seems to have created in the minds of its readers.

It would seem from this report and possibly other media news that Ziyad was victimized because the rules that applies to all athletes in the games, has been enforced on him and two others, too.

Sure, these questions beg to arise: Should the referee have allowed Ziyad and two others (for the same call room violation) to compete, regardless of their protests? Did he soften up with compassion by “bending the rules”? Did he “err” in his decision?

Based on the officials’ stand, Ziyad was late and has to abide by the rules. He should show his sportsmanship.

I have been involved as a technical and registration official in many official swimming championships in Malaysia. The ages of the athletes are from as young as 6 years old to seniors above 70 years old (in the Masters Championship). We inculcate a sense of discipline to abide by the rules of the championships. Throughout all the championship meets, we promote sportsmanship. While “winning” is the reason for competing, it is not everything if it is not based on sportsmanship.

Discipline is the way an athlete prepares for the sport.

Sportsmanship is the fabric that intertwines fair behavior and treatment of others especially in a sporting contest.

I repeat that Ziyad, besides him being a Malaysia athlete, is an international one, as well. He or /and his team manager should admit the mistake and move on. Look forward to the next international games or Olympics 2024 and aim at beating his 17.94m unofficial record. Looking at Ziyad, with the right determination; he will do it. I wish him every success.

NOTE: Bernama is the Malaysian National News Agency. It has usually been known and relied on for credible, up-to-date news. Reading their latest reports on this issue; the CDM has come out to say that the Ukrainians have a right to protest. That is sportsmanship.

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