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November 25, 2020

Athletics chief wants PM to arrange training for Arshad


November 25, 2020

KARACHI: The president of Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) Major General (retd) Akram Sahi on Tuesday requested the prime minister Imran Khan to take interest in training the country’s premier javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem who has the potential to win an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo next year.

“For the first time in Pakistan’s history we have a chance to win an athletics Olympic medal. Arshad has the potential to win a medal at the world’s biggest stage. I request the PM to take interest in Arshad’s case as he needs quality training,” Sahi told ‘The News’ on Tuesday.

“You know we have already managed a training programme in Kazakhstan for Arshad but the major issue we are facing is that flights to Kazakhstan have not been resumed due to Covid-19. It has put us in deep trouble,” said Sahi, a former international athlete.

“We have also submitted the details of the training cost, accommodation and other relevant expenses with the IPC Ministry. We have also told the ministry that it can transfer the money directly as the federation only wants to train Arshad,” said Sahi, also the vice-president of Asian Athletics Association (AAA).

“It is time the government backed Arshad’s training,” Sahi was quick to add.

Explaining the other option of bringing in a good foreign coach for Arshad for six months, Sahi said: “If the government supports then this can be done. A good foreign coach can be hired for Arshad within 10,000 US dollars for six months until Olympics,” Sahi said.

“An ordinary coach will not serve the purpose. Arshad has a great standing and needs a top coach to raise his standard further and make him able to win a medal at the Olympics,” the AFP chief said.

Arshad created ripples when he became the first athlete in Pakistan’s athletics history to qualify for Olympics through a wonderful 86.29metre throw he managed during the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal last December.

Arshad was sent to China for training along with four other athletes but the tour was cut short due to outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

Upon his return, Arshad was put in a camp along with his coach Fayyaz Hussain Bukhari at Lahore but that training stint also was cut short when the camp was closed at the end of March because of the countrywide lockdown.

Since then the Khanewal-born 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist and 2016 Vietnam Asian Junior Championship bronze medallist has been staying at home. He has maintained his fitness level though.

“I am regularly training at my village with whatever facilities I have,” Arshad told ‘The News’. “I am aware of my duty and am looking forward to the Games. If I get a minimum of six months training it will be very helpful,” he said.

Arshad won bronze in the 2017 Baku Islamic Games, bronze in 2016 India South Asian Games and gold in 2019 Kathmandu South Asian Games.

Three Pakistani shooters, Ghulam Mustafa Bashir, Gulfam Joseph and Khalil Akhtar, have also qualified for Tokyo Olympics to be held next summer. Melbourne-based equestrian Usman Khan has also made it but he will have to retain his seat with a new horse which he is going to purchase following the death of Azad Kashmir recently. Usman and his new horse will have to feature in at least five qualifying events until June 2021 to retain his Olympics spot.

The country’s senior karateka Saadi Abbas is also trying to make a cut for the world’s most prestigious event. Boxers, weightlifters and wrestlers are also trying to qualify for Olympics.