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March 8, 2021

Saadi skips Karate-1 Premier League for lack of funds


March 8, 2021

KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier karateka and Olympics prospect Saadi Abbas had to skip the Karate-1 Premier League which is scheduled to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, from March 12-14 due to financial issues.

“I was supposed to go to Turkey but I am not going now because of the limited budget,” Saadi told ‘The News’ from Dubai on Sunday.

Saadi had thought that he would try to flex his muscles in the Turkey event following a long barren patch as international karate activities had been halted due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the former Asian champion said that he would now focus on the remaining twin Olympics qualifying rounds to be held in Morocco and France during the next few months.

“The plan is to go to Morocco for the Olympics points and the final qualification event for the Olympics to be held in France,” Saadi said.

As per the revised schedule released by the World Karate Federation (WKF), the 2021 Karate 1-Premier League Rabat is now scheduled to take place from April 9 to 11. The Tokyo 2020 Qualification Tournament is pencilled in for June 11-13 in Paris.

These events were, earlier, slated for 2020 but were postponed after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were moved by the IOC to 2021.

Occupying 24th place in Olympics rankings in the -75 kilogramme weight category, the former two-time Commonwealth Championship gold medallist can give a surprise if he is able to claim a medal in the Paris event where 24 Olympics places are up for grabs. The top three fighters in each weight category will qualify for Tokyo Olympics.

If he is unable to click in Paris, even then the Karachi-born fighter will have a solid opportunity to earn the IOC tripartite commission place. The POA has already sent his entry along with a bunch of other athletes in other sports disciplines for earning such places.

Saadi these days is training in Dubai alongside the UAE national team, having a few good fighters, although not of Saadi’s calibre.

He said if he is able to save some money then he will try to flex his muscles in the Karate-1 Premier to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, from April 30 to May 2.

“If I am able to save some money so I will try to go to Portugal for the Karate-1 Premier League in late April,” Saadi said.

With no sponsors or state patronage during his quest for an Olympics seat, the experienced Saadi is mainly relying on the IOC scholarship managed for the former US Open champion by the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA).

He had requested the government that he needed the services of Turkish coach Yavuz Karamollaoglu but nothing was done.

Saadi, who recently claimed gold in the UAE Open Karate Championship, said he is working hard for future events. “My training and fitness work is going well,” said Saadi, who plans to come to Pakistan this month for the National Karate Championship slated to be held at Lahore from April 1-4. “And then I will move to Morocco immediately to feature in the Olympic qualifying event to be held from April 9-11. Then I will return to Dubai, and will train here in Ramadan for which soon a training camp will be planned,” he said.