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April 16, 2018

Commonwealth Games 2018: ‘Pakistan’s performance a wake-up call for sports authorities’


April 16, 2018

GOLD COAST, Australia: Some people back in Pakistan, particularly Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), might be happy that the country at least clinched a gold in the 21st Commonwealth Games which concluded here on Sunday. But those aware of the fact know exactly that Pakistan didn’t perform well in the quadrennial event in which an 87-member contingent took part in ten disciplines.

It’s a wake-up call for the sports authorities and they will have to get serious for the sports promotion, otherwise, it will be too late. And that’s exactly what the country’s premier wrestler Mohammad Inam feels.

“It’s time for our sports authorities to get serious and come up with a solid plan and investment. It’s really horrific that a country fields its 87-member contingent in the Commonwealth Games and lifts only a single gold. If this time too we did not learn then I don’t think we would ever compete at major stages,” Inam told ‘The News’ in an interview here on Sunday.

Inam on Saturday lifted the first gold for Pakistan when he defeated Nigeria’s Melvin Bibo in the 86 kilogramme freestyle wrestling competitions final here at the Carrara Stadium wrestling facility. The 41-year-old Bibo is World No 2. This was the second gold from Inam, who had also to his credit a gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India.

The 29-year-old Inam wants a lot of investment in sports.“It’s time to invest. And the way we are going is pathetic. There should be some improvement,” Inam conceded.

When asked whether he was satisfied with his performance in the Commonwealth Games, the fighter said: “It was not bad as it was up to the level on which we had trained. A win may hide your mistakes but as a player you must think whether you have made mistakes. I will try to work on my weaknesses and further strengthen myself for the future challenges.”

Besides lifting the world title in the last year’s World Beach Championships in Turkey, Inam had also claimed the only silver for the country in the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in South Africa in 2017. After the Gold Coast achievement, Inam’s next major targets are the Asian Games and 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But both events are not that easy and Inam knows that.

“You know, Asian Games are like Olympics for us. In Asian Games in my own 86kg, an Iranian fighter will also compete who is a world and Olympic champion. And for bravely facing such a big challenge, I will need at least three and a half months’ training abroad. And the government will have to play a big part in it. If I am given support then you can say I have a chance in the Asiad,” Inam conceded.

“After returning home from Gold Coast if we wasted time then it would not be easy. It’s a good stage to add to my solid form,” the wrestler said.The Asian Games will be held in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2.

Besides Inam’s gold, grapplers Tayyab Raza and Mohammad Bilal (57kg) won bronze medals for Pakistan in Gold Coast. Weightlifters Nooh Dastagir Butt (+105kg) and Talha Talib (62kg) also captured bronze in the 12-day event.

Inam is also thinking about Olympics. “If the government ensures its support then I will plan for the 2020 Olympics as there are hardly two years left,” the wrestler said.About his fellow wrestlers’ performance in the Commonwealth Games, Inam thinks it was good. “I think the performance of our boys was good. I am happy with that. If we go back we can see that during the last five years wrestling’s contribution in international circuit has been on the top. It’s time to respect this game,” the wrestler said.

He made it clear he would play until he had energy.“I asked an Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar that he has won medals in World Championships and Olympics, so how long he will play. He told me that there is no age for any player. A player should play until he is fit. I am 29 years old and will continue to play until I remain fit,” Inam said.Sushil on Saturday also won gold here in the 74kg competitions.

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