Latif Romly, Former Rempit Turned Gold Medalist at Rio Paralympics

Here's what we know about the Malaysian pride.

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  • Monday, 12 September 2016
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Latif Romly, Former Rempit Turned Gold Medalist at Rio Paralympics
Image: Paralympic Games YouTube
So, this 19-year-old is the latest athlete to pick up a gold for Malaysia at what is a very impressive Paralympics so far. The country cheered as he broke the world record THREE times during his five attempts at the Men's Long Jump T20 (Intellectual Disability) event, eventually coming in at number one with 7.60m during his final attempt. But how much do we know about this strapping young man from Beseri, Perlis? Here are five interesting deets we found out:

He quit rempit-ing to pursue sports

Latif was not just any mat rempit--he was the "kepala rempit" among his friends, according to an interview between Harian Metro and his mother, Salmah Yatim.

Salmah Yatim and her husband, Romly Mat (far right), celebrating Abdul Latif's victory. (Image: Amran Hamid @ Berita Harian)
Having used to worry over her youngest son's (out of seven children) future, Salmah now breathes a sigh of relief. Since picking up long jump and pursuing it professionally, Latif has left his motorcycle racing days in the dust.

He has to work extra hard to keep his focus

Physically, Latif is not unlike most athletes. However, mentally, he has trouble keeping his focus. Speaking to Utusan Malaysia following his win at the recent SUKMA 2016 in Kuching, his coach, Mohd Syahrul Amri Suhaimi, elaborated, "The challenge with training Abdul Latif is making sure to give him more than 100% of my concentration because he experiences difficulty in staying focused."

He was his school's golden boy for sports

While academics isn't his strongest suit, Latif has always demonstrated a strong passion for sports during his secondary school days.

Latif at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships Doha. (Image: Paralympic Games YouTube)
In addition to long jump, Latif also participated in other sporting events such as high jump, football and futsal. He was the school's sports star and bringing home a medal was not a matter of if, but when.

He began writing and reading at the age of 15

Experiencing difficulties in studying, schooling years were a difficult period for Latif. He struggled to learn and was initially apprehensive about the idea of being placed in a 'special education' class for fear of being laughed at by others. Eventually, he improved and picked up basic reading and writing skills when he was 15 years old.

He was a curious kid, just like all of us

As a young boy, sitting still was not something that Latif was very much fond of. Instead, he was a child who was constantly in search of an adventure. At the age of six, he received 14 wasp stings for disturbing the insects' nest!

Ultimately, Latif--along with the other 20 Malaysian athletes competing at the Rio Paralympics 2016--sends an important message that all of us can learn from. One that reminds us to never give up, and that with enough dedication, any struggle can be overcomed. 

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