LAHORE : Representing Pakistan in Olympic Games is definitely a grand distinction for any athlete and badminton star Mahoor Shahzad created history when she became country’s first female athlete to carry Pakistan’s flag along with shooter Khalil Akhtar at the grand opening ceremony of Olympic Games 2021 at Tokyo; these views were expressed by Secretary General Pakistan Badminton Federation (PBF) Wajid Ali Chaudhry in his exclusive talk to ‘The News’ from Tokyo, Japan on Saturday.
Wajid Ali Chaudhry said it's the first time in Pakistan’s sports history that a badminton player (male or female) not only featured in Olympic Games but also bearing the country's flag at the inaugural ceremony which is certainly a huge distinction for Pakistan Badminton Federation. Mahoor, a five-time national champion, is featured in the Olympics on the basis of the IOC Tripartite Commission Invitation place.
Answering a question regarding Mahoor’s medal chances in Olympics, Wajid, who is also Chairman Development Committee of Badminton Asia, said world’s best badminton players are there for Olympic competitions and in this scenario Mahoor, who became the first shuttler of the country to feature in the Olympics, will have to show extraordinary performance to make it to the knock-out stages of the grand event. “Mahoor did immense hard work and participated in several international badminton tournaments as part of her Olympic preparations,” he informed.
Elaborating further, PBF Secretary informed that the Development Committee of Badminton Asia conducted a grand 42-nation Asia Olympic Project (AOP) for selecting and grooming talented players for Olympic Games. “As many as 40 potential players 20 male and as many female players from different Asian countries were shortlisted to take part in the rigorous programme in which the participants were given international level training under the supervision of qualified coaches”.
“After a hectic training programme, only four female badminton players, one each from Pakistan, Iran, Vietnam and Myanmar, were chosen for Olympic participation. It is definitely a big achievement for Mahoor to be selected from such a large number of participants in the 42-Nation AOP programme”.
Replying to another question Wajid Ali Chaudhry said: “World Badminton Federation has lauded my performance for holding the 42-nation Asia Olympic Project quite successfully and nurturing players for Tokyo Olympic Games”.
As far as Wajid’s profile as a badminton player is concerned, he emerged national badminton men’s singles champion eight times from 1999 to 2010. He also clinched the coveted singles title in the 18-nation international badminton tournament in Tehran in 2007. Next year, he was declared winner in Saudi Open Badminton Championship. Wajid also bagged six medals (3 silver and 3 bronze) in SAF Games during his illustrious career.
It is to be noted here that Wajid has also served as national badminton coach from 2011 to 2014 before assuming the role of PBF Secretary General in 2015. He also performed the dual role of Secretary PBF and coach in SAF Games 2016, Commonwealth Games 2018 and Asian Games 2018.
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