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May 15, 2019

Pakistan plans to host 2023 Asian Athletics


May 15, 2019

KARACHI: With Hangzhou, capital city of East China’s Zhejiang province, already has earned hosting rights of the 2021 Asian Athletics Championships; the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) aims to bring in the 2023 edition to Pakistan.

“I really plan to bring in the 2023 edition to Pakistan. There is no issue for me to earn hosting rights of the continent’s biggest event but it depends on how state would support the cause,” AFP President Major General (r) Mohammad Akram Sahi told ‘The News’ in an interview.

Sahi, who last month got elected as the vice-president of Asian Athletics Association (AAA) in elections in Doha on the sidelines of the Asian Championships, said if he got the state’s nod for hosting such a big event it would help Pakistan’s athletics in particular and the country in general.

“You know during the same event AAA would also hold its elections and so two big events would combine together to make the show a mega one,” said Sahi, also a former international athlete.

“If we are unable to bring such an event then at least we can try for a three-legged Grand Prix, whose one leg we can bring in to Pakistan,” Sahi said.

“I plan to meet Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza, and, besides other things, will also discuss this matter. We will need state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment for the purpose,” he said.

To a query he said that the AFP had been struggling to send the country’s leading javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem abroad for training ahead of the World Championships slated to be held in Doha in September.

“Arshad’s throw in the Asian Championship in Doha last month was not bad. But you know he did not get any proper camp. We have written to a few nations and hopefully he will be sent abroad for training ahead of the World Championships,” Sahi said.

“Chinese Taipei, India and even Sri Lanka are always seen sending their athletes abroad. I don’t know why our government is not looking at these things. Building an athlete needs a lot of money and there is a need of the state support to promote sports,” Sahi said.

He also revealed that after Eidul Fitr the AFP plans to organise events at district level in order to get solid athletes in sprint, 400m and 800m. Then they would be tried in long-distance running. “The issue is that when an athlete runs in sprint he believes that he cannot run long distance,” he said.

However he was quick to add that handsome prize money would be kept for those competitions at the district level in order to attract more athletes. About the camp for the 13th South Asian Games Sahi said he did not know when the government was going to hold the camp.

Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has announced that the camps for the SAG would be held after Eidul Fitr. The 13th South Asian Games would be held in Nepal’s cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara from December 1-10.

Pakistan has a golden history in athletics at the Asian level. However for the last several years the country has lost its gloss in the sport. Last year in the Asian Games in Indonesia javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem instilled a new life in the sport by lifting a surprise bronze. This was after long 23 years that any Pakistani athlete got a medal in the Asian Games.

Before Arshad’s feat Pakistan had last snared a bronze medal in the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games through hammer thrower Aqarab Abbas who also represented Pakistan in 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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