Despite lack of support from the authorities, Pakistan's sportspersons did quite well at the Commonwealth Games
Pakistan did a solid job to finish the Commonwealth Games with two gold, three silvers and three bronze medals in Birmingham – quite unexpectedly. The country' premier javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem did a terrific job as he broke the Games record and went on to win gold with a massive throw of 90.18 metre. During his stint he broke his personal best feat three times.
Pakistan had last claimed gold in athletics in the 1962 Perth Commonwealth Games when Ghulam Raziq snared gold in the 110m hurdle.
Arshad beat the two-time world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, former world champion and Olympics silver medallist Julius Yego of Kenya and 2012 London Olympics gold medallist Kishorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago during his terrific display.
This is a huge throw and the feat has proved that the Pakistani javelin thrower can go a long way and can win medals in Olympics and World Championships in future.
It is also evident that two-month training in South Africa under coach Terseus Liebenberg helped Arshad a lot. Arshad did this job despite knee and elbow injuries. He told reporters after his gold medal-winning feat that he had the capacity to manage a throw of 95 metres and he would achieve this target in future events. Arshad is a great asset and he should be handled quite carefully. A coach should have accompanied Arshad. He was seen dealing with the media himself. I did not see any manager who could assist him at the mixed zone. The Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) will have to plan for him so that he features only in selected events. He is now a world-class player and he should be dealt with according to his caliber. Weightlifter Nooh Dastgir Butt also pulled off a major feat by winning gold in +109kg category during which he also set Games records. Nooh needs equipment and a physiotherapist to help him further improve his game. He is also one of the major Olympics hopes of Pakistan. He has been awarded an IOC scholarship but the state will need to further back him. Nooh could have played in the Tokyo Olympics had he been fit. However, he is now fit and needs more attention from the authorities.
The country's premier wrestler Mohammad Inam failed to defend his title. He was beaten by former world silver medallist Deepak Punia of India 3-0 in the 86kg final. Inam fought well but Deepak was younger and much stronger and the difference was evident. Inam has to his credit gold in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Inam did not get foreign training ahead of the Birmingham event and that also affected his performance.
Heavyweight wrestler Zaman Anwar surprisingly won silver. Mohammad Sharif Tahir also showed his potential by winning silver. Inayatulah and Ali Asad claimed bronze medals.
The third bronze came in judo: Olympian Shah Hussain secured it in -90kg. Shah could have finished at a much better position had he got the services of a coach.
In hockey, Pakistan finished seventh. There is a huge need for improvement in this sector. Pakistani players' performance was seen fluctuating and fitness was a big issue. Dutch coach Siegfried Aikman was also not happy with the fitness level of the players. Although he showed satisfaction over the way his brigade showed resistance in the event.
Our standard in badminton, table tennis, boxing, swimming and squash is very low and we need to work on these sports disciplines.
Pakistan finished 18th in the spectacle in which 72 nations showcased their worth. During the event I talked to management of several other countries including India and I came to know that they provided more exposure to their athletes as compared to Pakistan ahead of the Birmingham spectacle. So, I will not blame our athletes. They did a fine job in the event.
In an unfortunate development, two boxers, Suleman Baloch and Nazeerullah Khan, vanished after the games. Their passports are in the possession of the team management. In future every effort should be made to ensure such incidents don't occur as it damages the reputation of a country.
I would like to credit England who organized the Games in the most befitting way. The hosts had excellent facilities and our authorities should learn from them.