Wednesday September 28, 2022

Arshad’s gold

By Editorial Board
August 09, 2022

Star javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem’s title-winning triumph in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Sunday night is one of the greatest sporting achievements by a Pakistani athlete. In front of a big crowd at the Alexander Stadium, Arshad recorded a spectacular throw of 90.18 metres to create a new Commonwealth Games record as he overcame Grenada’s two-time world champion Anderson Peters to win a memorable gold. Arshad’s victory, which came just hours before the Games closed, gave Pakistan a somewhat respectable 18th place on the medals table with two gold, three silver and an equal number of bronze medals. In the process, Arshad broke several records. It was his personal best, surpassing his previous best throw of 86.38. Arshad has become the first South Asian to throw over the sport’s ‘holy grail’ mark of 90 metres. He is now only the second Asian after Taiwan’s Chao-Tsun Cheng (91.36m) to achieve this coveted feat.

This is the first time Pakistan has won a javelin gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Mohammad Nawaz and Jalal Khan won silver medals in the 1954 and 1958 Games respectively. This is also Pakistan’s first athletics medal in the Games since 1966. And all the credit for this Herculean achievement goes to no one other than Arshad, more so since he won the title despite nursing an injured right elbow. He has been carrying this injury since the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo where he won millions of fans at home with a spirited performance which earned him a fifth place. Since then Arshad has been working hard and was duly rewarded with a stunning triumph. Arshad’s win once again highlights the fact that Pakistan has the potential to compete with the best at the international arena. Before Arshad, wrestler Nooh Dastgir Butt also gave a record-breaking performance to win a gold medal. Six other athletes also won medals. Sprinter Shajar Abbas emerged as the only Asian to reach the 200m finals.

These are all positive signs. All Pakistan sports needs is a comprehensive and long-term development plan which can help our athletes come at par with their international counterparts. Our sports authorities should put aside their petty differences and work towards a greater goal. Instead of focussing on vested interests, national sports officials should work on ways and means to train our athletes. There are bigger targets facing us. The 2024 Olympic Games in Paris isn’t far away. Our athletes like Arshad, Nooh and wrestler Inam Butt have shown that they are among the world’s best and can help end Pakistan’s medal drought in the Olympics. All we need is to fully invest in them and other promising sportspersons. Over the years, we have hardly seen the state take an interest in Pakistani athletes – until any of the athletes brings home a medal. And a few months later, the athlete and their achievement are all but forgotten. It’s time to change the pattern.