Segamat-born S. Thavanesvaran will remember the Bukit Jalil Nasional Stadium as the venue he struck gold in the 400m T44 in his Asean Para Games debut although it is not his favourite event.
The 18-year-old, running in the T44 category (amputation and others, including athletes with dwarfism), ran only because his coach Nazri Uda requested him to run in the event - an event in which he has never competed before.
But Thavaneswaran turned out to be a winner which even left him and others surprised because his favourite events are the 100m and 200m.
"I am a sprinter. I ran the 400m because I did not want to go against my coach (Nazri)...did not know that I could run so well in the 400m. This win has certainly boosted by confidence," said Thavaneswaran who clocked 56.43s for his win.
It is all the more remarkable for Thavaneswaran who started walking at the age of seven, as he was trailing 5m behind leader Kyaw Kyaw Win of Myanmar in the T44 400m event. The Malaysian, however, did not allow the Myanmar runner the win.
At the 300m mark the Malaysian suddenly accelerated and his sudden burst of speed surprised Kyaw Win. It was only at the finishing line when Kyaw Win decided to dive.
That dive was in vain for Kyaw Win as the Malaysian hit the tape for gold. Kyaw Win was timed at 56.48s for the silver while Cambodia's Chim Phan took the bronze with 56.48s.
"I had to undergo surgery to repair my left foot and calf which were damaged during birth. That is why it took me seven years before I could walk. But for now it is time to celebrate my win...winning the gold in my (Para Games) debut has boosted my confidence," said the student of SMK Dato Mas Arshad in Segamat.
Thaveswaran also wears two different sizes of shoes and spikes because of the deformity. His right foot is size ten while the left is foot is a size three. But that does not matter for Thavaneswaran as he is determined to "make big" in his athletics career.
Thavaneswaran is also down to compete in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m.