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July 18, 2019

Saadi targets medal at Asian Karate with aim set at Olympic spot


July 18, 2019

KARACHI: Eyeing 2020 Tokyo Olympics spot, Pakistan’s premier fighter Saadi Abbas will be put to a real test when he features in the Asian Karate Championships, to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from Friday (tomorrow).

Saadi, who has to his credit one gold and two bronze medals in the Asian Championships history, has reached Tashkent along with three other Pakistani fighters Awais (-84kg), Naseer Ahmed (67kg) and Waqar Khan (60kg).

He is upbeat and desperately wants to finish at the victory podium, a feat that will take him very close to earning an Olympic seat for the first time. “Asia is tough but I have the experience of winning medals for three times in this event. Whenever I come here I come for a medal. InshaAllah this time too I will try my best to lift medal,” Saadi told ‘The News’ from Tashkent on Wednesday.

“It’s a tough event because on the Olympic rankings list top seven to eight world’s leading fighters belong to Asia and I will have to beat all of them here. Let’s see how Allah decides. On my part I will try my level best,” Saadi said.

On Thursday (today), weigh-in and draws will be held which will decide break-up of Saadi’s fights in the -75 kilogramme weight category. Saadi’s current Olympic ranking is 21. He will need to come in top five at the end of the qualifying stage. This year he has appeared in a handful of qualifying events that has helped him keep his ranking. And after the continental event he will have to appear in a number of more qualifying events this year.

“After featuring in the National Championship in August I will have to appear this year in three major events in Japan, Russia and Madrid in September, October and November respectively. “Currently these are on my radar and then we will plan accordingly,” the 31-year old Lyari-born fighter said.

Saadi is also going to get married on July 28. Saadi also has to his credit two Commonwealth Karate Championships titles and a US Open crown.

He had also claimed silver in the 2017 Baku Islamic Games. A few days ago Indus Motor Company (IMC) formally announced its support to Saadi during a news conference here. “IMC has already told me that it will give me money for Olympic qualifiers and I am waiting for it. But it has responded well,” Saadi said.

As many as 340 fighters from 33 nations will feature in the Asian Championships. Pakistan Karate Federation’s (PKF) chairman Mohammad Jehangir was hopeful that Saadi would live up to the expectations.

“Saadi is our most experienced fighter and has been performing well throughout. I am optimistic that he will do his best again here,” Jehangir told this correspondent from Tashkent. Jehangir will attend Asian Karate Federation (AKF) Congress meeting to be held on Thursday (today).

About other fighters he said they will do their best. “All of them are good and we have hopes from them and that is why we have come here. I think we will do better here,” Jehangir said. He also informed that the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) was not supporting PKF for the tour. “We are not being backed by the PSB. We have come here using our own resources,” he said.

Pakistan’s three referees Naseem Qureshi, Ijaz-ul-Haq and Irfanullah Khan are also set to deliver their services in the competitions. Karate will make its debut on the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020, although it has been controversially overlooked for Paris 2024.

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