Tuesday September 21, 2021

Ministry, PSB never backed me, says Talha

ISLAMABAD: Weightlifter Talha Talib on Monday accused the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) of never backing his talent, saying just six months of international exposure prior to the Olympics could have earned him one of the top two positions at the Tokyo Games podium.

In an exclusive hard-hitting pulsating interview with ‘The News’ from Japan, he said that his potential had gone unnoticed in the corridors of power. The talented weightlifter sprung a surprise by staying in medal contention till the last minutes on Sunday in the 67kg category.

“My question to those running the sports affairs in the capital is why my potential was never recognised. I turned out to be the best athlete of the 13th SA Games, won bronze at Commonwealth Games and returned with the youth Olympic medal. Yet my performance and potential failed to stir the officials who are running the sports affairs in the capital,” Talha said.

He said he was never supported by the PSB for his training or given access to international coaches. “Competing against the best and highly technically trained weightlifters is not a joke. These weightlifters, even Zanni (from Italy) who won bronze in the same category, stay at the circuit throughout the year. His government invested millions in him to get him ready for the Olympics. On the contrary I got no such training. Neither was I trained abroad. Yet, I tried hard to stay in contention for a medal throughout,” he said.

Talha praised the weightlifting federation and the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) for doing whatever they could. “Look I am from a middle class family and hardly meet my daily expenses. I am thankful to the federation for awarding a monthly stipend and looking after my training, though they also have limited resources. I am thankful to POA for fighting my case enabling me to compete at the Olympics. I was not sure two months back whether I would compete in the Games. Recognising my talent, the POA made sure I got an opportunity to express myself at the highest level,” he said.

Talha was upset at the plight of weightlifters and wrestlers in the country. “Look I am not speaking for myself only. I know sponsors will start coming in a big way to support me. Here I am speaking on behalf of all those young talented weightlifters who have the potential to excel. There are many. What they need is support from the government and corporate sector right from the start of their professional career. I am confident that in the years to come you will find them as good as I will be Inshallah in three years time,” the 21-year-old said.

Asked about his decision not to carry 173kg during his last clean and jerk attempt, he said it was asking too much. “Had I succeeded in my first attempt in clean and jerk, I would have gone for 175kg in third. The failure at the first attempt where I lost my composure hit me hard. Clean and jerk was never my forte. It is the snatch where I really enjoy my game and that is why I turned out to be the second best. Twelve years back I would have scooped up silver as there was a medal for each of the categories,” he added.

On his future assignments, Talha said he would participate in the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship to be held in October. “This event will also serve as the qualification round for the Commonwealth Games to be held next year in the UK,” he said.

The weightlifter hoped his performance at the Olympics would help him get a better training environment for future assignments. “You cannot believe how I managed my training during the last couple of months. I hope to get a better training environment in the months to come.”