The 11-year-old's left leg was amputated in 2015 because of a bacterial infection but he did not let his condition deter his willpower.
Determination and support can take you a long way. In an inspiring incident, despite losing one of his legs to bacterial infection in 2015 and coming last in a 100-metre race, 11-year-old Muhammad Aqil Naufal Zahiran from Malaysia managed to win people's hearts. The race was conducted at a school in Jerantut, Pahang, as a part of the school's sports festival by Jerantut District School Sports Council's (MSSD) Special Education Athletics Championship 2023 on August 23. In a video posted by Farid Kamaruddin (@faridkamaruddin18) on TikTok, we see many boys running and Aqil completing the race on crutches. However, what warms our hearts more is that one teacher completing the race with him, cheering him on to support him.
Aqil shared with Harian Metro that he was always athletic and into sports, particularly football. He stated that it was his first time competing in such a tournament and that he only signed up after being encouraged by his teachers, attending four days of preparation before the race. All he wished to do was finish the race.
"I was taking part for the first time and embarrassed, standing next to the other competitors. But I continued even though my trousers nearly fell off because I thought that no matter what happened, I wanted to finish the run," he said. "Even when my friends were already far in front." After completing the race, he naturally felt good. "I felt happy, especially when my teacher came to congratulate me," he said. The eldest of two siblings lost his father two years ago. But he feels supported in different ways.
Zulaikha Jusoh, Aqil's 35-year-old teacher, sprinted alongside him halfway through the race because she did not want him to feel alone while the other participants were far ahead. She also wanted to urge him to finish the marathon, emphasizing that his participation was more essential than his victory. "Before the race, I told him I wouldn't force him to win or finish the race if he was tired or in pain," she said. "I didn't expect him to compete to his fullest and reach the finish line. That made me proud of his spirit." His family was proud of him for doing so.
Unfortunately, Aqil's mother, Noor Hafizah Mat Desa, could not attend his race due to work obligations. She was, however, able to see him in action through the images and videos captured by his professors. Hafizah wishes to complete all his desires and added, "Any mother in my position would be proud (of Aqil)." Aqil claims that if given a chance, he wouldn't mind taking part in another race.
Aqil's spirit and the teacher's support had many netizens praising them. "This kid made me cry and stole my heart. He is an incredible and an inspiration to all," commented @carolynjohnson786. "What a wonderful feat of courage and physicality WELL DONE to him and his encouraging teacher," praised @jodiemyles. "As a sports teacher, the boy really really did superbly and had a big heart until the finish line ... for that, you are such an amazing person," added @arsenal8248.