KARACHI: The country’s premier wrestler Mohammad Inam will leave for Birmingham a bit earlier.
Although wrestling events in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games will begin on August 5 but the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold medallist will need to be in Birmingham a few days in advance as he will feature in a segment of the Games relating to ‘success story display’, it has been reliably learnt.
He is being sent earlier on the special request of the Games organisers, a highly credible source told ‘The News’.
It was learnt that Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), which is tactfully handling the things, also wants to send one more wrestler with him but it is not yet confirmed. The rest of the wrestlers will go a few days after the departure of Inam. This will also help Inam to get acclimatise with the environment before going for defending the title.
According to sources, being the only Commonwealth Games gold medallist in the 104-member Pakistan’s Birmingham-bound contingent, Inam will also serve as a flag-bearer of the national contingent during the opening ceremony of the quadrennial spectacle which will be held at the Alexander Stadium on July 28.
Pakistan Sports Board’s (PSB) made a decision in its meeting on July 6 in which it cut down further the Birmingham-bound contingent’s strength by deciding against sponsoring two boxers, four shuttlers and four swimmers, creating an issue for the POA. It was learnt that the POA will now redo the bookings for these athletes which the Board is not backing. Sources said that the POA does not want to see any athlete suffer and is doing top effort to ensure all features in the Birmingham Games.
It has been learnt that the travelling schedule of those athletes who will feature in both the Commonwealth Games and Islamic Games have been finalised. These athletes will come to Konya directly from Birmingham.
The Islamic Games are slated to be held in Konya, Turkey, from August 9-18. Inam will reach Konya one day before his event.
The POA has already shared the contingent list relating to Islamic Games with the PSB and the NOC will go further for settling the matter once the Board will write to it about the strength which the state will sponsor and the departure and return schedule of the athletes.
The boarding and lodging is free of cost during the Commonwealth Games whose athletes village will open on July 23. However for the Islamic Games each individual will be charged for staying in the village.
It is expected that a 122-member Pakistan’s contingent will feature in the Islamic Games in 16 disciplines, also including two para sports. However, it all depends on how the PSB will look into this strength and what deduction it will make. Sources privy to the development said that the things will get final by July 15.
Meanwhile, the PSB has closed training camps from July 6-12. Although the closure time-frame seems big keeping in view the scheduled major international events, some federations have planned to keep those athletes in training even during Eid days who are set to feature in these two assignments.
“We will do our best to keep our key fighters in training during Eid,” a senior official of Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF) told this correspondent.
Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) has decided to give rest to its fighters only on eid day. “Yes camp is in progress. There is off only on eid day,” a PBF official confirmed it to ‘The News’.
Sources in Pakistan’s wrestling camp have demanded the PSB to restore their original strength of 30 wrestlers for the camp.
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