Wednesday October 20, 2021

Judoka Shah hopes to make his presence felt at Olympics

ISLAMABAD: Talented judoka Shah Hussain Shah overcame numerous hurdles, COVID-19 crises, visa issues, and even no-show in an Israel event to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics-becoming the first Pakistani athletes to do so in the second successive mega event.

In an exclusive interview with ‘The News’ on the telephone from Tokyo just after he secured berth in Olympics, he said it was a big challenge for me to make it to the Olympics through continental quota as he had to miss four back-to-back events for one reason or the other. I missed two due to the visa issues, one because of Covid-19 crisis, and another one due to my personal decision not to travel to Israel to compete in the qualifier. But last year my performance in -100kg category was so good that I turned out to be the first choice when it came to picking the best from the continental (Asian) quota. This is the second time in running that I have earned a spot in the Pakistan contingent through continental quota,” Shah Hussain said.

He was hopeful of making his presence felt in the Olympics.

“My aim is to win a medal for the country. For that, I have been training hard in Tokyo these days and putting in every effort to get to the prime form at the time of judo competition in the Olympics. I still believe that outcomes would largely depend on the draws for my category and hope that I would get the best possible draws to make rapid progress. I am thankful for the judo federation and all those who have supported me in my qualification. I will request all my countrymen to pray for my success at the Olympics.”

Col (r) Junaid Alam, President Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF), told ‘The News’ that a communique from the International Judo Federation Wednesday confirmed that Shah Hussain has earned a spot in the Pakistan contingent through the continental quota set forth for the best judoka of Asia. “It is great news for Pakistan sports, for judo and for Shah Hussain that his untiring efforts have finally brought fruits. Indeed it is a big achievement for a judoka who faced numerous hurdles yet was determined to make it to the Olympics.”

Junaid said Shah was all set to qualify directly for the Olympics but was forced to miss four key events.

“He has made history by qualifying for the Olympics for the second successive time. The final list has been released and the International Judo Federation has sent a qualification confirmation email addressed to president Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) Lt Gen (r) Arif Hasan and to the Pakistan Judo Federation early Wednesday which coincidentally is the World Olympic Day.”

Shah Hussain last year performance helped him maintain his top ranking in the Asian continent after direct qualifiers.

Japanese coach Kobayashi Yusuki is working hard on Shah these days in Tokyo.

“We wish him best of luck and pray that he becomes a source of pride for the country in Tokyo,” Junaid said.

Meanwhile, Lt Gen (r) Syed Arif Hasan, President POA has congratulated Shah Hussain for securing the Olympics berth.