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January 28, 2020

Arshad Nadeem to be sent to Finland for Olympics preparation

Sports

January 28, 2020

KARACHI: Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) is sending record-breaking javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem, the country’s Olympics medal hope, to Finland to train at the best athletics centre of the world.

“Yes, we have finalised a deal with the world’s best athletics centre in Kourtane, Finland, for Arshad who is our medal hope in Olympics,” AFP president Maj Gen (retd) Akram Sahi told ‘The News’ on Monday. “It’s a major centre where world’s many leading athletes are training,” Sahi said.

“We have done everything and the centre also sent us an MoU document today which we are going to sign. Arshad will be sent to Finland as soon as possible,” said Sahi, also a former international athlete.

Arshad qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a superb 86.29 metre throw at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal last year. After that, the AFP chief had promised while talking to ‘The News’ that he would try his best to send Arshad to some renowned training centre or hire for him one of the world’s best coaches.

“If he is able to manage 90 metre or more, he can win a medal. He is almost in that bracket and just needs some push through quality training and that is why we are providing him with this opportunity,” Sahi said. “The centre in Kourtane will then send Arshad as per its programme to South Africa, Turkey and other countries for training and competitions,” he added.

“So he will also get around five events until Olympics,” the AFP chief said. “It’s the first occasion in the 70-year history of Pakistan that an athlete is in a position to win a medal for the country in Olympics and we should seize this great opportunity. The government should support the AFP in the cause. It will be a proud moment if Arshad is able to finish at the podium in Olympics,” Sahi said.

The AFP has written to Prime Minister Imran Khan and federal minister for inter-provincial coordination (IPC) Dr Fehmida Mirza for financial support. It was learnt that a huge amount would be spent to prepare Arshad.

In 2016 Rio Olympics, Germany’s Thomas Rohler with 90.30 metre throw claimed javelin gold, Julius Yego of Kenya with 88.24m got silver, while Kishorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago with 85.38m won bronze.

Arshad these days is in Nanjing, China, along with four other leading athletes, for training. It was learnt on Monday that the athletes were returning home because of the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China.

“Yes, we have told Pakistan’s embassy in China to send the athletes back to Pakistan because of that virus,” Sahi said. “We are in constant contact with them and they are safe,” the AFP chief was quick to add.

“We sent Arshad to China just for a sort of outing following the 13th South Asian Games as we were trying to manage a better training opportunity for him which ultimately we did,” Sahi said.

An athlete from Nanjing told ‘The News’ on Monday that they were safe. “We have not trained for the last three days. We have been advised to wear masks. Today we went to the venue but were told to stay indoors because of fear of the virus,” an athlete said.

“We are safe. All my colleagues are okay. We are being sent back to Pakistan,” the athlete said. The athletes had been sent to China by the AFP in the last week of December, 2019, for a couple of months training to prepare for international assignments. The other athletes there are Olympian Mehboob Ali, Mohammad Naeem, Samiullah and Uzair-ur-Rehman.