Monday May 27, 2024

‘Foreign training to help us clinch Asian Games medal’

By Alam Zeb Safi
March 27, 2023

KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier wushu fighter and the Asian Games major medal hope Maaz Khan on Sunday said if the country’s top fighters are provided with a foreign training tour then he is sure that the nation will get medals in this discipline in the 19th Asian Games slated to be held in Hangzhou, China, from September 23 to October 8.

“It’s my dream to win medal in the Asian Games. We also have a few more fighters in wushu who can also do so but for that we will at least need a couple of months training either in China or Iran which are the two major destinations for training,” Maaz told ‘The News’ in an interview.

“In the past too we got foreign tours and those helped us a lot as it builds your confidence level. I request the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to back us in this regard,” Maaz said.

“Besides foreign training, we also need a national level camp at the earliest. I think Asian Games are not too far away and it would be much better if the government gives us camp immediately in Islamabad where the facilities are also good and the environment also is ideal for training,” Maaz said.

Maaz is undergoing training here at his own academy in Keamari and he says he is in fine shape. “Yes, I am perfectly fit and targeting medal in the Asian Games. We did not play at international level much during the last three years or so due to covid and Asian Games will be my prime target. I am more than confident if I get persistent training for the next five to six months, I will be able to achieve my objectives,” Maaz said.

In the men’s sanda 70 kilogramme competitions in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, Maaz created a huge stir when he knocked out the then World No3 Elie Bou-Gebrayel of Lebanon in the pre-quarter-finals.

However, he lost to World N01 Shi Zhanwei of China 0-2 in the quarter-finals after an epic battle. “I gave tough time to him and narrowly lost. But that stint in the Asian Games gave me confidence and maturity and I thought that I could also become World No1,” Maaz said.

Maaz, who serves in the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), has to his credit golds in the 2010, 2016 and 2019 South Asian Games. He also clinched silver in the 2017 Baku Islamic Games in wushu and bronze in 2017 Ashgabat First Asian and Martial Arts Games in kick-boxing.

He plays in 70 and 75 kilogrammes weight category. Starting his career as an amateur boxer, Maaz got national titles in both junior and senior categories in the sport. But after a brief stint in boxing, Maaz switched over to wushu more than a decade ago and has been the sole hope of the country in international circuit in the sport.

He also intends to represent Sindh in the 34th National Games slated to be held in Quetta from May 15-23. “I am very much thankful to the PWF for the way it has supported me and other fighters and it would be of great help if state also assists the federation in its endeavour to prepare a fighting lot for the Asian Games,” Maaz said.