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Golden chase begins

RIO DE JANEIRO — Malaysia will begin their chase for a gold medal at the Rio Paralympic Games today, after a glittering opening ceremony which captured the public’s imagination.

The Games opened on Wednesday with samba, parading wheelchairs, giant balloons — and loud booing of Brazil’s president — at a sold-out Maracana stadium.

The extraordinary sight of US Paralympian Aaron Wheelz jumping in his wheelchair from a 17m ramp got the crowd on its feet.

Then the joyous rhythms of samba singers and a carnivalesque reproduction of a Rio beach scene got them dancing.

But Brazil’s tensions also flared with thousands in the crowd chanting “Out with Temer!” as newly sworn in President Michel Temer appeared at the ceremony just days after taking over from bitter rival Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached.

Temer’s hurried declaration of “I declare the Games open” met a roar of boos, while booing forced Brazilian Olympics boss Carlos Nuzman to pause his speech after he mentioned “thanks to the federal, state and municipal governments” before telling the athletes “You are superhumans”.

The Malaysian contingent was led by flag bearer Abdul Latif Romly, who is favoured to win gold in the long jump.

He was followed by chef de mission Ang Kean Koo and the rest of the contingent.

Malaysia started participating in the Paralympic Games in 1972 in Heidelberg, Germany with only three athletes but sent none for the next three editions.

Malaysia rejoined the Games in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea and won their first medal, a bronze, through P. Mariappan in powerlifting.

In Barcelona four years later, Malaysia won a silver through Cheok Kon Fatt (powerlifting) and two bronze medals — Mariappan (powerlifting) and Mohd Khasseri Othman (athletics).

In Beijing, in 2008, powerlifting athlete Siow Lee Chan created history by being the first Malaysian female para-athlete to win a medal and the only one in that edition. She won a bronze.

Four years ago, archer Hasihin Sanawi won a silver in the recurve event and a bronze through track and field star Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli in shot put.

Hopes are high Ziyad and Latif will bring back the elusive gold this year.

In the opening ceremony, more than 4,300 of the world’s toughest and most competitive disabled paraded ahead of 11 days of contests.

Some pushed their own wheelchairs, others were pushed, while others limped.

However, controversy hung over the no show by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach — the first absence of an IOC chief since the 1984 Summer Games.

Bach is due at a mourning ceremony in Berlin for the late West German president Walter Scheel.

However, there have been suggestions that the no-show has to do with divisions over the Paralympic committee’s outright ban on Russian athletes after allegations of a state-sanctioned doping programme and IOC’s relatively softer line.

There were also reports in Globo and other Brazilian media outlets that Bach is wanted for questioning by local police investigating an illegal ticket selling ring allegedly involving a senior Irish Olympic official. Rio police are to give a press conference on the matter tomorrow. — Agencies

Ziyad Zolkefli



Name: Siti Noor Iasah Mohamad Ariffin

Date of birth: Sept 22, 1989

Birthplace: Johor

Disability: Intelectual Disability (ID)

Category: T20

Event: 400m and Long Jump


Gold: Asian Para Games Incheon, 2014

Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015

Bronze: World Championships Doha, 2015

Name: Siti Noor Radiah Ismail

Date of birth: Nov 3, 1993

Birthplace: Johor

Disability: Intellectual Disability (ID)

Category: T20

Event: Long Jump


Gold: Asian Paragames Incheon, 2014

Silver: Asean paragames Singapore, 2015

Name: Abdul Latif Romly

Date of birth: March 31, 1997

Birthplace: Perlis

Disability: Intellectual disability (ID)

Category: T20

Event: Long jump


Gold: Asian Para Games Incheon, 2014, Asean Para games Singapore, 2015, Sukma Sarawak, 2016

Name: Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi

Date of birth: Sept 27, 1987

Birthplace: Perlis

Disability: Cerebral palsy (CP)

Category: T36

Event: 100m and Long jump


Gold: World Championships Doha, Qatar 2015, Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015

Silver: Asian Para Games Incheon, 2014

Name: Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli

Date of birth: March 15, 1990

Birthplace: Selangor

Disability: Intellectual Disability (ID)

Category: F20

Event: Shot Putt


Gold: Asian Para Games Incheon, 2014, Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015

Bronze: World Championships Doha, Qatar 2015

Name: Krishna Kumar Haridas

Date of birth: Feb 25, 1987

Birthplace: Malacca

Disability: Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Category: T38

Event: 400m


Gold: Asean Paragames Singapore, 2015

Silver: Asian Paragames Incheon, 2014

Name: Amir Firdaus Jamaluddin

Date of birth: April 24, 1986

Birthplace: Kedah

Disability: Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Category: T38

Event: Long Jump


Gold: Asean Paragames Singapore, 2015,

Bronze: Asian Paragames Incheon, 2014

Name: Nasharuddin Mohd

Date of birth: Feb 4, 1995

Birthplace: Johor

Disability: Intellectual Disability (ID)

Category: T20

Event: 400m


Gold: Asian Paragames Incheon, 2014

Silver: Asean Paragames Singapore, 2015

Name: Mohamad Faizal Aideal Suhaimi

Date of birth: Jan 8, 1995

Birthplace: Kedah

Disability: Intellectual Disability (ID)

Category: T12


Gold: Asian Paragames Incheon, 2014, Asean Paragames Singapore, 2015


Name: Hasihin Sanawi

Date of birth: June 15, 1983

Birthplace: Selangor

Disability: Leg

Category: W2

Event: Men’s Individual Recurve Open


Silver: Asean Para Games Solo Indonesia, 2011, Paralympics London 2012, BWAA Open Archery International Stoke Mandeville, 2012, Para Archer World Ranking Bangkok, 2012, Para Asean Games Myanmar, 2014, World Archery Qualifying and Ranking Czech Republic, 2016

Bronze: Asean Para Games, Indonesia, 2011, Para Archery World Ranking, Bangkok, 2012

Name: Yuhaizam Yahaya

Date of birth: Aug 19, 1971

Birthplace: Perak

Disability: Spinal Cord

Category: W2

Event: Men’s Individual Compound Open


Gold: Asean Para Games Indonesia, 2011, Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015

Silver: Asean Para Games Myanmar, 2014.


Name: Muhammad Afiq Afify Rizan

Date of birth: March 22, 1988

Birthplace: Kelantan

Disability: Visual Impairment

Category: B1

Event: Men’s ‘B’ Pursuit & Men’s ‘B’ 1km

‘Pilot Rider’: Mohd Faizal Mohamed Noh


Gold: Japan Paracycling Cup, 2015 (200m sprint), 4th Asian Paracycling Championships, Japan 2016 (200m sprint, 1km sprint)

Name: Mohd Khairul Hazwan Wahab

Date of birth: Dec 6, 1992

Birthplace: Labuan

Disability: Visual Impairment

Category: B2

Event: Men’s Road Race ‘B’ and Men’s Time-Trial ‘B’

‘Pilot Rider’: Mohamad Rauf Nur Misbah


Bronze: Asian Paracycling Championships, India 2013 (Individual time-trial), Asian Para Games, Incheon 2014 (Road race)


Name: Jong Yee Khie

Date of birth: Nov 19, 1988

Birthplace: Sarawak

Disability: Leg Amputee

Category: Individual

Event: Below 97kg


Gold: Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015

Bronze: Asian Para Games, Incheon, 2014, Fazza IPC Powerlifting World Cup Dubai UAE 2015, Heavy Glasgow XX Commonwealth Games 2014, IPC Powerlifting World Cup Kuala Lumpur, 2015

Name: Mohd Shamil Md Saad

Date of birth: May 14, 1986

Birthplace: Pahang

Disability: Polio

Category; Individual

Event: Below 107kg


Gold: Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015

Silver: Asian Para Games, Incheon 2014, IPC Powerlifting World Cup, Kuala Lumpur 2016


Name: Al Mustakim Martim

Date of birth: July 10, 1985

Birthplace: Sabah

Disability: Arms and legs B2


Gold: Asian Para Games Incheon, 2014, Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015, World Championships Melbourne, 2015, Hansa World, Holland 2016


Name: Jamery Siga

Date of birth: May 27, 1985

Birthplace: Sarawak

Disability: Polio

Category: S5

Event: 50m freestyle, 100m freestlye and 50m butterfly


Gold: Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015 (50m butterfly, 200m freestlye)

Silver: Asian Para Games Incheon, 2014 (50m butterfly, 200m Freestyle), Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015 (50m freestyle, 100m freestyle)

Bronze: Asian Para Games Incheon, 2014 (50m freestyle)


Name: Mohamad Azwar Bakar

Date of birth: Aug 6, 1987

Birthplace: Terengganu

Disability: Crippled Fingers

Category: TT10

Event: Individual


Gold: Copa Chile, 2015, Copa Tango, 2015

Silver: PTT Korea Open, 2015, PTT Thailand Open, 2015, Taichung Table Tennis Open for Disabled, 2015

Bronze: Asian Para games, 2010, Asian and Oceanic Championships, 2011, Asian Para Games Incheon, 2014, Asean Para Games Singapore, 2015


Name: Abu Samah Borhan

Date of birth: Feb 27, 1985

Birthplace: Perak

Disability: Spinal Cord

Category: Open

Event: Men’s Singles


Silver: Asean Para Games Indonesia, 2011 (Team)

Bronze: Asean Para Games Indonesia, 2011 (Singles), World team Cup Turkey, 2015 (Team)

Pako Ayestaran

Trying times for Los Che


Valencia have an uninspiring start to the new La Liga season. They are one of the big clubs in Spain but find themselves anchored at bottom of the table after losing both their opening matches.

Los Che have to improve and fast or may find themselves involved in that dreaded relegation battle.

Never mind the fact that they have lost stars like striker Paco Alcacer and defender Shkodran Mustafi who have joined Barcelona and Arsenal respectively in the recent transfer window.

Manager Pako Ayestaran, who took over from Gary Neville last March after the Englishman was sacked with eight games of the season to play, has a lot to do to get Valencia rocking again.

This is no easy job for the rather unknown Ayestaran.

It’s great to know Valencia have taken the initiatives to sign up Argentine centreback Ezequiel Garay from Zenit St Petersburg and attacker Nani from Fenerbahce after losing Mustafi and Alcacer, though.

Valencia also signed up defender Eliaquim Mangala and 21-year-old striker Munir from Manchester City and Barcelona respectively, on loan.

Munir is a talented attacker but found it difficult to get playing time at Barca for the obvious reasons.

And now Valencia have given Munir the break and he is looking forward to prove his worth and help the club to be deadlier in the attacking aspect. His confidence seems to have skyrocketed as well.

Picture this.

Munir, speaking at his unveiling at the Mestalla, said he was confident Valencia would have a strong season.

“The target this season is the Champions League and I believe we can do it,” he told reporters.

“Celta Vigo were interested in me but I told them I would be joining Valencia, as soon as I knew of their interest I wanted to come here.

“I have come Valencia to score goals and I have no doubt this will be a successful season for us.”

Munir scored eight goals in 26 games for Barcelona in all competitions last season, and scored in the Catalans’ 2-0 Spanish Supercopa first leg victory at Sevilla last month.

Let’s wait and see what he can do for Valencia, who host Real Betis on Sunday. At least a draw for Ayestaran’s men.

This is interesting.

When newly-promoted Alaves step onto Nou Camp pitch on Sunday it will be almost six years to the day since Barca tasted bitter defeat to minnows Hercules at home.

It was Sept 11, 2010, with Pep Guardiola, in his third season as Barca boss, welcome Los Griegos to Catalunya in expectation of three points, only for Paraguayan Nelson Valdez to smash the hosts 2-0.

The similarities to this season do include a more-or-less perfect start to the season, which Barca are enjoying after wins over Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao.

With several players still remaining from that fateful day, manager Luis Enrique may be on extra guard to avoid a somewhat familiar embarrassment for the fans.

Starting line-up for Barca in that Hercules stunner?

It read: Victor Valdes, Javier Mascherano, Eric Abidal, Maxwell, Adriano, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Seydou Keita, Lionel Messi, David Villa, Bojan Krkic.

Can Alaves do a Hercules?


Barca will be too hot to handle even without Lionel Messi, who is recovering from groin injury.


Marcus Rashford (4)


MANCHESTER — Marcus Rashford is ready to be unleashed in tomorrow’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is considering giving strike sensation Rashford his first club start of the season against bitter rivals Manchester City in the wake of the stunning midweek hattrick he scored on his debut for England Under-21s.

The 18-year-old also scored the only goal when the Mancunian giants last met in March.

And Mourinho is said to be leaning towards including him in his starting line-up for the lunchtime showdown.

Local lad Rashford maintained his remarkable record of scoring on his debut for every manager with his treble in Tuesday’s 6-1 rout of Norway’s Under-21s.

He has scored in his first appearances for then United boss Louis van Gaal, former England manager Roy Hodgson, current United chief Mourinho and now the Under-21s’ leader Gareth Southgate.

And Rashford, who came off the bench to score United’s late winner at Hull in the final game before the recent international break, says he hopes he has handed Mourinho a major selection dilemma.

“As a young player you want to make the manager make decisions,” said the youngster, who confirmed he was up for the derby.

“It’s going to be a great game and everyone’s looking forward to it.”

The player most likely to make way for Rashford is Anthony Martial.

Although he scored for France during last week’s international break, Martial has struggled for form at club level this season.

Mourinho must now decide whether to start with Rashford, using his pace and direct running to torment City from the first whistle, or keep him on the bench and introduce him late on when those defenders are tiring. — Daily Mirror

Sagna raring for Devils battle

MANCHESTER CITY defender Bacary Sagna declared himself fit for tomorrow’s eagerly-awaited derby against Manchester United.

The France international has missed City’s last three matches due to a hamstring injury, but now hopes to force his way into the side to play at Old Trafford.

“I feel good. I had to rest a bit because I had a little tear on one of my hamstrings,” the 33-year-old told City TV.

“I had a long season last year, so I need to take care of my body, but today I feel great. I am looking forward to Saturday (tomorrow).

“I am going to be giving my maximum in the training sessions to feel as fit as possible, then the manager might have to make some choices.”

Sagna is one of a number of players who could be back in contention this weekend, with captain Vincent Kompany and midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane now all training as normal.

None of the trio have featured this season, with summer signings Gundogan and Sane still awaiting their debuts.

New goalkeeper Claudio Bravo could also make his City bow following his move from Barcelona last month.

Sagna hopes City can get on the front foot as they face a side who, like them, have opened the season with three successive Premier League wins.

“I would say it is one big test from many we are going to have this season,” said the rightback.

“It’s a really good team, a strong team. They have new players also and have had a great start, the same as us, but we want to stay on the top now until the end. We learn from last year and are going to try to dictate the game.”

Some reshuffling of the City team will be necessary, with star striker Sergio “Kun” Aguero beginning a three-match ban for elbowing West Ham’s Winston Reid.

Aguero had been in fine form, scoring six goals in four appearances this term.

Kelechi Iheanacho is the only out-and-out replacement, but manager Pep Guardiola has a number of attacking midfielders who could fill the position.

Sagna said: “Of course he (Aguero) is a massive point to our team. He is a great player, everyone knows his quality, but we have many other players who are expecting to give the maximum.

“I am sure they can play in our team and am sure they can score goals. I am pleased for them. They are going to have to show what they can do. I am sure they are going to pull the team up.” — Agencies

Lucas Perez

Lucas the menace

LONDON — Lucas Perez, known simply as Lucas, will be a test for Arsenal’s rivals as he can make defenders feel ‘uncomfortable’, says teammate Shkodran Mustafi.

Arsenal signed Lucas for £17 million (RM92 million) at the end of the summer transfer window after manager Arsene Wenger had been frustrated in the search for further forward recruits.

Wenger insisted Lucas was not a panic buy, with the 27-year-old scoring 17 La Liga goals in 36 appearances for Deportivo La Coruna last season.

Two of those goals came against the Gunners’ £35 million (RM190 million) signing Mustafi when the centreback was at Valencia, and the Germany international warned opponents Lucas will prove a handful this season.

“He is uncomfortable to play against,” Mustafi told .

“He’s a good striker — he has everything a striker needs.

“He’s someone you can play well with. He doesn’t just run around and wait for someone to give him a pass to score a goal.

“He works a lot for the team as well and he creates chances. He’s in the right place at the right time, as he showed last year in La Liga.

“I played there for two years and I know it’s not easy to score many goals in La Liga, because you have great defenders there as well.”

Lucas is convinced he made the right call to leave Deportivo for Arsenal, saying: “It’s very exciting. To play with the best, to compete with the best, it makes me very happy.

“It’s a challenge, and if someone had told me at 10 years old when I was playing in the streets of La Coruna, I would have thrown them off a bridge, I’d have said ‘you’re crazy’.”

Mustafi and Lucas are both available for their debuts as the Gunners face Southampton tomorrow when the Premier League resumes after the international break.
— Agencies

EPL-NFL double-header planned

LONDON — Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has raised the possibility of hosting a Premier League and NFL double-header on the same day once work on their new stadium is complete.

Spurs are aiming to move into the stadium, which will have a capacity of 61,000, ahead of the 2018-19 season.

In July, Spurs announced a deal with NFL to host two games a season, with a retractable grass pitch for Premier League matches and an artificial surface underneath for American football.

And Levy believes it is possible to host both sports on the same day and is excited by the prospect of doing so.

“I don’t think it’s something we’d want to try in our first game, but that is certainly realistic,” he told ESPN.

“How exciting, the idea of having the two biggest leagues in the world from a television perspective — fantastic — playing on the same day.” — Agencies

Luiz in heart of defence

LONDON — Manager Antonio Conte suggested he could implement a new formation at Chelsea following David Luiz’s arrival, with the Italian set to play the Brazilian as a centreback.

Luiz arrived back at Chelsea in a shock £34 million (RM184 million) transfer deadline day deal after the Blues were frustrated in their search for central defensive reinforcements this summer.

The Brazil international played at both centreback and in central midfield during his first spell at Chelsea given his ability to carry and pass the ball, and has said he will play wherever Conte tells him to this season.

Despite admitting Luiz’s adaptability was one of the reasons for the deal, Conte says he sees the 29-year-old’s future back in central defence.

“David Luiz is a centreback, he’s played a lot of games in that position,” Conte told Chelsea’s website.

“I know sometimes he’s played as a central midfielder but in my mind the idea is to utilise him in the right position which, for me, is centreback.

“He’s played with Chelsea previously and he will bring a good personality.”

Conte has already switched from Chelsea’s traditional 4-2-3-1 formation to a 4-2-4 at times this season — relying on N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic’s work rate in central midfield — though targeted defenders in the summer such as Alessio Romagnoli, who would allow him to play a 3-5-2 formation.

With Luiz set to compete with John Terry and Gary Cahill for a spot in defence, and Kurt Zouma still to return from a long-term knee injury, Conte’s intention to use the Brazilian further back could see the Italian revert to the 3-5-2 he used to much success at Juventus.

The arrival of leftback Marcos Alonso would also allow Cesar Azpilicueta to revert to his original rightback role and Branislav Ivanovic to shift further infield, giving Conte more options at the back.
— Agencies

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