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May 2, 2021

Saadi exits Karate 1 Premier League

KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier karateka Saadi Abbas faced an early exit when he narrowly went down to Korabau Ivan of Belarus in the minus 75 kilogramme first round fight of the Karate 1 Premier League at Lisbon, Portugal, late Friday night.

It was a tough fight. Saadi went 1-0 ahead. However, Ivan staged a nice comeback when he took two points to take a lead. Saadi then grabbed one point to make it 2-2. Ivan got the winning point in the last second to win the clash 3-2.

“I was dominating the fight, but lost unluckily. The result could have been better,” Saadi told ‘The News’ from Lisbon.

“There was no such fault on my part and the things went well nearly till the end,” the former Asian champion said.

The event is part of the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers and now final standings with aggregate points will be calculated. Saadi, who currently holds the 24th spot, cannot qualify through standings, but he still has a chance to press for the Olympics seat during the World Qualifying round which will be hosted by France in Paris from June 11-13.

The top three in each weight from Paris will move into the Olympics. Saadi knows that he will have to put more effort now to earn an Olympics ticket in Paris. “I have to do something extraordinary to make my place in the Olympics,” Saadi said.

Saadi is expected to move to Kazakhstan for a two-week training. “We have received an invitation and I am trying to manage some money to move there,” Saadi said.

Saadi thanked Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) for the support he has got. “I want to thank POA as it was because of the NOC I got an IOC scholarship and featured in qualifying events,” he said.

Saadi is not happy with the government, however. “The government is sleeping. Players are really suffering. They don’t feel how we feel,” he said.

“We fight for the country without any proper support and give our best to make the nation proud but they don’t care. This compels the players to leave the country and settle somewhere else,” he added.

“What else can I do? I kept myself motivated, worked hard for the last five years and did not give up. I still have a chance. I will work harder to prepare better for the Paris qualifiers,” Saadi said.

“Individually a player cannot take a medal. It is the whole system which takes the medal,” he said.

“If an individual player does something without support it’s a miracle and miracles do not happen every time,” he reasoned.

“It is important to have a training camp for such big objectives under professional plan. We are going to play in the Olympics, not in any street championship. Turkey has sent here 52 people, including coaches, players and physiotherapists. They are spending millions but still they don’t take many medals,” he said.

“And I train by spending from my own resources, come here alone. Whatever achievements I have got the government remained unmoved. I have been begging for the last five years but to no avail,” he said.

Saadi said that the government had not given him anything big for his achievements during his 15-year illustrious career. “The government has given me only Rs3.7 million so far: for 2006 South Asian Games gold (Rs200,000), 2010 South Asian Games two silvers (Rs1 million), Asian Karate Championship gold (Rs500,000), Islamic Games silver (Rs500,000) and South Asian Games 2019 two golds (Rs1.5 million),” he said. “The government did not give me a single penny for claiming two gold medals in the Commonwealth Championships, two Asian bronze medals, gold in KOBA Osaka World Cup for club level 2010 Greece, US Open gold, Bosphorus Cup bronze 2009 Turkey and 2018 Erzurum International silver,” he said.

“If I calculate the money which I have spent on tickets and training so with it I could have purchased a big piece of land, houses and apartments,” he said. “I never got any civilian award. The government obliged those with political connections. It never considered my name. If it did, my name was removed at the final moment,” he said.

“They make me start thinking of giving up, but I am not like that. I feel embarrassed now to ask the government anymore for support. I will never complain again,” he said. “I am tired emotionally, physically, mentally. A person with so much fatigue cannot give his best,” Saadi said.