2024 Paralympics: Abdul Latif told to be wary of threat posed by Canadian, Colombian

KUALA LUMPUR: National Paralympian Datuk Abdul Latif Romly had better be wary of the threat posed by Noah Vucsics of Canada and Colombia’s Jhon Sebastian Obando Asprilla as he seeks to complete a ‘hat-trick’ of long jump gold medals at the 2024 Paris Paralympics.

Abdul Latif won his first Paralympic gold medal in the men’s long jump F20 (intellectual impairment) event at the 2016 edition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before repeating the feat at the 2020 edition in Tokyo, Japan.

But coach Shahrul Amri Suhaimi is adamant that Abdul Latif must continue to stay focused and not underestimate the capabilities of his two main rivals at the Paris Paralympics which will be held from Aug 28-Sept 8.

“Abdul Latif’s two main contenders have shown marked improvement of late, with Vucsics recording a jump of 7.35 metres (m) at the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships in Paris while the Colombian leapt to a distance of 7.22m at a meet in Santiago, Chile last year.

“Although Abdul Latif led the rankings last year after clearing a distance of 7.40m at the world meet in Paris, he cannot be overconfident and must remain cool, calm and collected when he competes in the 2024 Paris Paralympics,” the coach told Bernama recently.

Shahrul Amri also advised Abdul Latif to steer clear of injuries, which could derail his efforts for a third straight gold medal in the F20 long jump event at Paris 2024.

The 40-year-old coach is especially worried about the long jumper suffering a recurrence of the groin injury that he first sustained at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

The coach’s concern is understandable because Abdul Latif, who holds the F20 long jump world record of 7.64m that he set at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia, failed to complete all six jumps in two major events due to the injury.

Fortunately for Abdul Latif, he still managed to emerge triumphant in those two major events – the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics and the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships.

Abdul Latif clinched gold at Tokyo 2020 after completing five attempts and emerged champion at the 2023 world meet with just two attempts.

“Abdul Latif is a fighter. He will always fight till the end, but I hope he will be injury-free this time. Otherwise, it will be a big blow to him and the country,” said Shahrul Amri.

The coach said that the 27-year-old Abdul Latif will head for Germany for a month to compete against able-bodied athletes in three championships there in June after the 2024 World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan from May 17-25.

After the three championships in Germany, the Perlis-born Abdul Latif is expected to undergo final preparations in Malaysia before heading for Paris to complete his ‘hat-trick’ mission at the 2024 Paralympics.

National Paralympian Datuk Abdul Latif Romly/BERNAMAPIX