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May 5, 2021

Bilal, Haroon leave for Bulgaria today

Sports

May 5, 2021

KARACHI: Two Pakistan wrestlers, accompanied by an official, will fly out of Sialkot for Bulgaria via Dubai on Wednesday (today) to feature in the Tokyo Olympic Games World Qualifiers which will be held in Sofia from May 6-9.

The wrestlers are Mohammad Bilal (57kg) and Haroon Abid (97kg). They will be accompanied by coach/manager Arshad Sattar, who is also the secretary of the Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF).

Because of the Covid issue only a three-day visa has been issued to the squad. They will return on May 8.

“Yes, only a three-day visa has been issued to us,” PWF secretary Arshad Sattar told ‘The News’ from Lahore on Tuesday.

The Pakistan squad will be able to reach Sofia in around ten hours. However, it will take more time when they return due to flight issues.

Bulgaria Qualifier is the final opportunity for Pakistani wrestlers to earn Olympics seats.

Bilal recently done well in both the Asian Qualifiers and Asian Championship in Almaty. He beat a top Kazakhstan fighter in the Asian Championship who has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Arshad feels that Bilal should qualify. “Yes, he is the biggest hope and I am optimistic he will qualify,” he said.

“He has trained hard and is the fittest grappler,” Arshad said.

Bilal claimed the bronze medal in the World Qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games which had been held in Turkey.

Bilal a few days ago told this correspondent in an interview that he would not repeat the mistakes which he made in Almaty.

The finalists in each weight category will make it to the Tokyo Olympics.

In Bilal’s weight category there are 27 entries while in Haroon Abid’s weight category there are 25 entries.

Haroon, nephew of Jahara Pahalwan, did not impress in the 125kg events in Almaty. It is a solid opportunity for Haroon to leave some impression if he is to stay in the mainstream wrestling in future.

Pakistan’s premier wrestler Mohammad Inam was expected to be fielded in the world qualifiers but the authorities decided against sending him to Bulgaria because of fitness issues. Inam developed a knee injury during the Olympic Games Asian Qualifiers in Almaty in which he won bronze.

During their Olympic journey Pakistan missed the 2019 World Championship due to financial issues. It was a big opportunity for national wrestlers to fight for Olympic tickets. In the global event top six in each weight had to progress to the Tokyo Olympics.