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December 12, 2019

Judoka Shah Hussain Shah hopeful of ending Olympic medal drought, asks for govt support


Thu, Dec 12, 2019
Shah Hussain Shah is hopeful of ending the medals drought for Pakistan at Olympics. Photo: Photo:

KARACHI: Pakistani judoka Shah Hussain Shah hopes to end the country's 28-year-old Olympic medal drought after his father, Hussain Shah, last won bronze in boxing in 1998.

Hussain Shah, a boxer from Lyari, was the last Pakistani to win an individual Olympic medal in boxing in Seoul.

Four years later, the country secured its very last Olympic medal in any sport — a bronze in hockey.

Pakistani athletes, since then, haven’t been able to achieve any medal in the six Olympics events that have taken place in the last 28 years.

However, Shah Hussain Shah — son of the legendary Hussain Shah — is hopeful of ending the medals drought for Pakistan at the Olympics.

Although he is yet to secure his place in Tokyo Olympics, the numbers suggest that he will play his second consecutive Olympic event next year.

“I am on the list of continental quotas and have to maintain that position by May 2020, and for that I have to play tournaments,” Shah told in Karachi.

“I want to make a direct entry into the Olympics instead of [going through] the continental quota. It is important for me to participate in tournaments in Europe next year as it will also help me prepare for the Olympics,” he said.

The 26-year-old judoka won gold for Pakistan in the recently concluded South Asian Games in Nepal — his second gold in the regional sporting extravaganza. He was also part of the mixed team that won the silver medal.

His father, Hussain, has won five consecutive gold medals for Pakistan, which is a rare achievement by any Pakistani boxer.

The judoka is hopeful of continuing his father’s legacy.

“My father has won five gold medals for Pakistan and he wants to see the family win more medals. I have now won two gold medals, so the Shah family has seven medals now,” he said.

“I grew up listening from people that my father is a legend. I am proud to be the son of Hussain Shah, it motivated me and encouraged me to become a sportsman. My father has never pressurised me for anything. Rather, he encourages me whatever the results are,”he said.

Shah revealed that there was a time when he also wanted to become a boxer like his father, but his mother discouraged him.

“My mother didn’t want me to become a boxer after seeing my father being punched 500 times a day. That’s why she didn’t encourage me to opt for boxing. Judo is a national sport in Japan where we live, and it is all about self defense. So it is not just a sport, but also an important aspect of life,” he said.

“My mother never watches my fights live, whenever I am fighting she’s at home praying for me,” he said.

Photo: Reporter 

The top Pakistani judoka also revealed that he works at a gym in Tokyo at night to earn money, which he spends on his training and regretted that he hasn’t been receiving much support.

Shah highlighted that to win an Olympic medal, it is important for everyone, from the government to the people, to contribute towards the cause.

“I need support from the government. I am being trained in Japan and paying for my expenses. I work in night shifts. It is not an easy task,” he said.

“I am aware that my father Hussain Shah didn’t get much support here and things haven’t changed much even now. But I don’t think much about these things, I don’t want to think negatively.

"I am focused on my sport and training. You are right that we don’t get support but that’s beyond my control. What is in my control, is my performance and [I] will do my best,” Shah added.

Shah said that he is confident of winning a medal in the Olympics but for that he needs support for training and participation.

“I am not being overconfident but I have a feeling that I have a chance to win an Olympic at Tokyo because I am training with top judokas and doing good. My level is stepping up by participating in various tournaments and training programs but again, that’s only possible when everyone contributes,” he said.

“Winning an Olympic medal is not an easy task and no one can do that alone. Everyone needs to play their part, from government to people.

"If I get the proper support, I believe we will have a good chance of winning the medal,” Shah highlighted.

Shah added that he has improved a lot since his debut Olympic appearance at Rio in 2016.

“I didn’t know what the Olympics were in 2016. Even making it to the event was everything for me then,” he recalled.

“Now I know what it means to be at the Olympics and what it takes to win a medal. I didn’t know all this when I played in the Olympics. Now I know everything.

"My participation and defeat at Rio has helped me a lot and motivated me to do even better and set higher targets. I am a much better Judoka now,” he said.