Wednesday May 29, 2024

Top Pakistan sports officials expect athletes to deliver at CWG

By Alam Zeb Safi
July 28, 2022

BIRMINGHAM: England is set to host the Commonwealth Games for the third time as the quadrennial 72-nation spectacle is to be formally opened here at the Alexander Stadium on Thursday (today).

The opening ceremony will begin at 7pm local time and will last until 10:30pm. As many as 5000 athletes will flex their muscles in the event in 19 sports disciplines. Satisfactory arrangements have been made for the Games which England had hosted in 1934 in London and 2002 in Manchester.

A 104-member Pakistan contingent is set to feature in swimming, athletics, para-athletics, badminton, boxing, women T20 cricket, gymnastics, hockey, judo, squash, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.

Most of the national athletes have arrived in the city. On Wednesday welcome ceremonies were also scheduled to be held at all four athletes’ villages. An official of the Pakistan contingent told ‘The News’ that a limited number of athletes will attend the ceremonies.

The federal minister for IPC Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari has also reached here and attended the inter-ministerial meeting. He will attend the opening ceremony on Thursday (today), a senior official of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) confirmed to ‘The News’.

Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) president Lt Gen (retd) Syed Arif Hassan is also expected to arrive here soon from the US.

“Yes, he is coming but it's not confirmed whether he will arrive before the opening ceremony. We are waiting for him,” the POA secretary General Khalid Mehmood told this correspondent here.

He was happy with the arrangements which have been made for holding the extravaganza.

“Yes, arrangements are good as far as boarding, lodging and transportation for the athletes are concerned. Yes, there are some coordination issues but we have planned to handle things smoothly,” Khalid said.

Asked whether the entire Pakistan contingent will attend the opening ceremony, he said it depends on what coaches decide.

“It depends on the coaches as some events will begin on July 29 and if coaches say that they cannot allow their players to attend the opening ceremony because of their competitions they have the authority to do so,” Khalid said.

He hoped that Pakistan would deliver its best in the Games. “We expect a medal from javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem and we also have a solid chance of medals in wrestling and weightlifting. If draws come good then we also have some chances in judo and boxing,” said Khalid, who is also the president of Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF).

Meanwhile, PSB Director General Col (retd) Asif Zaman told ‘The News’ that he was happy with the arrangements made for the contingents. “Everything is good,” he said.

“Yes, there is an issue for those athletes who have tested positive for covid-19 as there are very tough restrictions in place in that regard,” Asif said.

He hoped that their athletes would win laurels for the country. “We have provided every facility to the athletes for training and I hope it's time now for them to deliver,” said Asif, a former Asian junior squash champion.

Meanwhile, POA announced on Wednesday that the country’s premier wrestler and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mohammad Inam and the national women’s cricket team skipper Bismah Maroof will serve as flag-bearers during the opening ceremony.

The women's T20 cricket is going to make its debut in the Games.

All the participants have been advised to assemble at the opening ceremony’s venue at 3pm.

In the Commonwealth Games in which Pakistan made its debut in 1954 Vancour Games, so far the nation has grabbed 25 gold, 24 silvers and 26 bronze medals.

In the last Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, Australia, Pakistan won one gold medal and four bronze. Inam claimed the only gold while wrestlers Tayyab Raza and Mohammad Bilal and weightlifters Talha Talib and Nooh Dastgir Butt clinched bronze medals.

However, this time the country’s top javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem and two-time Olympian judoka Shah Hussain are also expected to grab top medals in the Games which will conclude on August 8. Shah won silver in the 2014 Glasgow Games but judo was not included in the 2018 Gold Coast spectacle.