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February 10, 2021

Talha working hard to earn Olympic berth through Tashkent event


February 10, 2021

KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier weightlifter Talha Talib has been working hard to earn an Olympic berth when he features in the Asian Weightlifting Championship slated to be held in Tashkent from April 16-25.

“Yes, I have been undergoing rigorous training for the last five months and aim to give a breakthrough by putting in my best effort in the Tashkent event which is a qualifying round for this year’s Tokyo Olympics,” Talha told ‘The News’ in an interview from Gujranwala on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old promising WAPDA athlete is a dangerous and fast-growing seed. In last year’s Commonwealth rankings Talha remained second in the 67 kilogramme category.

There is no national camp and Talha has been training at his home as he has made all arrangements for his preparations. His father Mohammad Islam, a former Asian bronze medallist in powelifting, is coaching Talha.

“Yes, my father is my coach. Under his patronage I have been growing as a weightlifter,” said Talha, also the 2019 Nepal South Asian Games gold medallist.

He has restricted himself to his home and gym which is a few hundred yards away from his home. He trains twice a day. He gets up at 4 in the morning and keeps himself involved in various practices. And in the evening also he trains hard for the tough event. After the Asian Championship his final Olympic standing will become clear. If Talha fails to make it directly to the Olympics then he can fight for the IOC Tripartite Commission places as Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) has already sent his name.

“It’s tough for the players to train in this Covid situation. I have only focussed on my preparation. I don’t meet people as if a player contracts such an ailment then he has to face the consequences as his whole preparation gets disturbed. Keeping this in view I am very careful and have kept my eye on quality preparation,” said Talha, also a bronze medallist of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“This time I have prepared much better. I aim to improve in both snatch and clean and jerk,” said Talha, who claimed three gold medals in the 6th International Solidarity Weightlifting Championship in Tashkent last year.

He has been associated with WAPDA since 2012. He was given Grade 16 in 2018. Despite having performed exceptionally well both at national and international levels he has not been regularised.

Talha had claimed gold in the 33rd National Games in Peshawar before going to Nepal in 2019 for South Asian Games.

Currently, he is Pakistan’s top seed in 67 kilogramme.

It’s not easy for Talha to meet all his training expenses which are very high.

“You know a weightlifter also needs supplements which cost around Rs30,000 per month which is not easy to afford,” Talha said.

“My family, my father, WAPDA, POA and Pakistan Weightlifting Federation (PWF) are backing me in one way or the other which boosts my confidence,” he said.

He has so far appeared in three Olympic qualifying events and has been impressive. More points in the Asian Championship in Tashkent may boost Talha’s standing for fighting for an Olympic berth.

This is the first time that Talha has been fighting for an Olympics seat. Before the 2016 Rio Olympics he was too young. He is regarded as a big future asset for the country and aims to achieve high goals in weightlifting career.

“Yes I want to go a long way. I have to earn maximum medals for my homeland,” Talha said.

For the last three years the state has not held any camp for the country’s top weightlifters who have been bringing laurels for the country.