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August 25, 2019

Working extra hard


August 25, 2019

In order to earn Olympics seat for the second successive time, Japan-based Olympian judoka Shah Hussain works for six hours at night so that he could pay for his training and boarding expenses. It’s really hard for the 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist to continue his job and keep Olympics hopes afloat at the same time.

He is doing a job at the Tokyo Boxing Gymnasium where his father and former Pakistan’s Olympics bronze medallist boxer Hussain Shah imparts training to professional boxers.

Shah Hussain is passing through the agony of training and working at the same time because of no financial support from Pakistan’s government. He wants to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Games at any cost. He is fighting a lone battle. Let’s see how the 2016 Rio Olympics participant tackles the grave situation he faces at a time when he is at the peak of his career.

He is being trained by Japanese coach Ono. Ono is younger than Shah but the Pakistani fighter believes he can judge him well and is helping him find out his flaws.

Shah declined offers of nationality from many countries because of his love for Pakistan. He still hopes that sanity will prevail and Pakistan’s government will support him.

Shah has so far featured in only one Olympic qualifying event — the Asian Championship. He is set to feature in the World Championships which begin today (Sunday) at his hometown in Tokyo.

“This is the most difficult phase of my career,” Shah told ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) in an interview from Tokyo.

“I am fighting a lone battle for winning an Olympics seat but the situation is not in my control. I cannot do anything alone. Pakistan’s government and corporate sector must support me,” Shah said.

“I raise Pakistan’s flag but I have no support and that is really painful. I do a job at the gymnasium where my father serves with the aim to generate some money for my training, coaching, and diet expenses. I cannot wish for luxury foods or any other enjoyment. I have to follow austerity measures as there is no other way,” Shah said.

“Let me remind you that I qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics due to government support. At that time I remember Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera was Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General. He kept supporting me and I became the first Pakistani judoka to qualify for the world’s most prestigious games,” he said.

“At time I was offered nationality by England, Japan, and several Arab countries. They wanted me to play for them but I chose Pakistan. It gives me a lot of pain when I see that I am not being supported by my own country for which I have given so much sacrifices. I do a job at night and train in daytime,” the fighter said.

“I assure you that despite all odds I will go all out for earning an Olympics seat. I am going to feature in the World Championships which starts in Tokyo in a few days. My weigh-in will be held on August 29. If I got a medal it would help me improve my Olympics ranking in -100kg competitions. My Olympics ranking will still improve even if I don’t win a medal and end fifth, sixth or seventh. My whole focus now is on training so that I could extend solid performance in the World Championships where I will have home conditions,” Shah said.

He made it clear that he did not need training abroad. “I don’t need to train abroad for Olympic qualifying rounds. I need to ensure my presence in maximum qualifiers until the end of qualifiers next year by training in Japan. I can rise to the occasion and win an Olympics seat provided the state supports me,” Shah said.

Pakistan’s chances of qualifying for Olympics are not that bright as the state does not seem interested in backing the players.

Besides Shah, Pakistan’s key karateka Saadi Abbas is also busy appearing in qualifying events.

Saadi, who rose to 18th spot in Olympic ranking, is lucky to have got sponsorship recently which will help him take part in qualifying events for Olympics.

He is going to feature in Karate -1 Premier League which will be held in Japan from September 6-8.

The country’s renowned javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem is also expected to press vigorously for an Olympics seat. He is going to feature in the World Championships in Doha next month.

Pakistan is not likely to press for Olympic seat in wrestling and weightlifting as both the federations are finding it difficult to send their athletes abroad for lack of money.

Some shuttlers believe that they have an Olympics chance but I don’t think they do.

Pakistan will make efforts to qualify for Olympics in boxing, hockey and baseball.

There is no chance of federal government supporting any discipline in which Pakistan athletes aim to qualify for Olympics.

The federations should vigorously make an effort to back their aspiring athletes in their Olympic mission.

Hussain Shah should use his status as a former successful boxer for the country to seek financial help of the corporate sector for his son Shah.

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