Thursday February 29, 2024

Absence of Talha, Nooh to hurt Pakistan Olympics chances

November 13, 2023
A representational image of a person lifting weight. — Unsplash/File
A representational image of a person lifting weight. — Unsplash/File

LAHORE: Olympian Talha Talib is serving ban due to doping reasons while the other super heavyweight weightlifter and 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nooh Dastgir Butt has been unregistered by the Pakistan Weightlifting Federation (PWF) due to some political issues.

The absence of these two key weightlifters seems likely to deprive Pakistan of the opportunity to earn the 2024 Paris Olympics seats. Besides them there is a mediocre crop of weightlifters who cannot press for the world’s most prestigious spectacle.

Yes a chance can be created if Nooh returns to the fold after mending his differences with the PWF. If he fails to make it directly to the Olympics then he can then press for the Olympics seat on the basis of the Universality Places. Talha Talib featured in the Tokyo Olympics on Universality Place and shot to fame by finishing fifth at that biggest stage.

A senior official of the PWF on Sunday said that doors are open for Nooh if he mends his issues with the federation and accepts its constitution.

“Nooh is the most precious athlete and the PWF's doors are open for him if he resolves his issues with the federation and registers himself with it as per rules and regulations,” the official told The News.

“Nooh has not talked with us officially on this issue,” the official was quick to add. “These are all political things and those people are responsible for this who keep Nooh away from the PWF,” the official stressed.

“He is a fine player. Why should we lose a medal by keeping him away? If he shows intent to return we will welcome him with open heart. We have no enmity with him,” the official said.

“If Nooh returns then we will look in which Olympic Qualifying events we can field him until April’s end after which a final ranking will decide the fate of the weightlifters. And we also have a chance on the Universality Place,” the official said.

Nooh recently missed the Hangzhou Asian Games purely due to political reasons as PWF had unregistered him. Nooh’s entry had not been sent by the PWF for the Asian Games after he did not attend the trials.

Nooh is Pakistan’s top heavyweight weightlifter and he could have pulled off some surprise for the nation had he featured in the Hangzhou Asian Games. Due to his alleged rift with the PWF, Nooh had been fielded in the 34th National Games in Quetta under the banner of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA).

If Nooh returns to the fold then he will have to feature in the 102kg plus in the Olympics Qualifying rounds. As per rules a weightlifter who wants to qualify directly for the Olympics will need to feature in the World Championship in Riyadh which has already been conducted in September and the World Cup in Thailand which will be held from April 2-11, 2024, besides three or more qualifying tournaments to be held from August 1 2022 to April 28, 2024.

Nooh has already missed the Saudi Arabia World Championship in September. Yes he has a chance as far as the Universality Place is concerned. On that front a weightlifter will need to compete in at least two qualifying events in the above-mentioned timeline.

Meanwhile, sources in the PWF told this correspondent that besides Talha Talib and Abu Bakar Ghani, who are serving ban for doping reasons, case of the other four weightlifters -- Abdul Rehman, Farhan Amjad, Ghulam Mustafa and Sharjeel Butt -- has been referred to Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) for adjudication.

Sources said that very soon a final decision about the fate of these four weightlifters will come. These four weightlifters have been charged for not cooperating with the International Testing Agency’s (ITA) doping team.