National sprinter Ridzuan Puzi broke down in tears during an interview yesterday, 20 January, after knowing that he may have to part ways with his beloved coach, R Jeganathan
Speaking to Astro Arena, the Paralympic gold medallist became emotional when asked about the news that Jeganathan’s contract may not be extended by the National Sports Council (NSC).
“Coach Jega is the best,” he told the sports channel, while holding back tears.
“He understands me. He promised to fight with me at Paris.”
“Coach Jega, please return to us. We’ll make a comeback at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.”
Image via Bernama/Free Malaysia Today
Ridzuan has trained under Jeganathan since 2008 and they have won several accolades that have made the nation proud together
The biggest moment was when Ridzuan brought home gold in the 100m T36 (cerebral palsy) event at the Rio 2016 Games, becoming the first ever Malaysian Paralympic gold medallist.
The Perlis-born para-athlete has notably won another gold medal at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar and achieved an impressive gold medal hat-trick at the 2018 Asian Para Games, earning him the honour of being named ‘Best Asian Male Para Athlete‘ in the same year.
Ridzuan’s close relationship with his coach is well known, and he considers Jeganathan a father figure.
According to The Star, Ridzuan hopes that Jeganathan will be reinstated as a coach by the NSC.
“Coach Jega is like a father to me, and we have achieved so many things together. I did tell him that we must go together to Paris 2024,” said the 34-year-old.
“I hope I can continue training under him. That’s what I wish for.”
The NSC said they will make a decision about Jeganathan’s contract after the Chinese New Year celebrations next month
The decision will be made as a joint committee between the NSC and the Malaysian Para Athletics Association, reported Bernama.
It was also reported that 64-year-old Jeganathan’s name was initially dropped as NSC usually does not retain coaches past 60 years old.
However, as Jeganathan has sent in an appeal to be retained, they have decided to review the decision.
“The discussion is still open. We have not made a final decision. We’re looking at the pros and cons and researching what’s needed for the athletes,” said NSC Paralympics department director Mohd Sofian Hamzah Sofian, citing that due to budget constraints, they have to look at many factors.