Pakistan’s Asian Games debacle

October 8, 2023

The performance we have produced in the Asian Games is unacceptable. It is humiliating for a populous country like Pakistan with loads of talent

Pakistan’s Asian Games debacle


akistan’s 19th Asian Games run has been pathetic. When this article appears Pakistan’s entire journey in the quadrennial event will have ended.

Till October 5 Pakistan had won just one silver and one bronze. The kabaddi team was scheduled to face India in the semi-finals on October 6 while the men’s cricket team was set to face Afghanistan in the semi-finals on October 6.

A medal in kabaddi was confirmed while if Pakistan beat Afghanistan in men’s cricket then there too we will have a medal.

It is likely that Pakistan will finish with four medals.

Pakistan won a silver in squash team event when the Green-shirts were beaten by India 2-1 in the final. However Pakistan’s squash players, who included experienced campaigner Nasir Iqbal, failed to deliver in the men’s and women’s singles. Nasir was expected to do some wonders in the men’s singles but he failed to advance beyond the round of 16 when he was downed by Abdulla Altamimi of Qatar 3-0 in the pre-quarter-finals.

In shooting Kishmala Talat did well to snare the first ever bronze for the nation in its Asian Games shooting history. She did this in the 10 metre air pistol competitions.

The rest of the pack, including the world bronze medallist Ghulam Mustafa Bashir, Gulfam Joseph and Usman Chand, failed to deliver.

In women’s cricket, Pakistan were downed by Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the semi-finals and bronze medal clash, respectively, and so returned empty-handed from Hangzhou.

In sailing, table tennis, tennis and badminton the national athletes put up a pathetic display.

In athletics, Pakistan received a heavy jolt when its premier javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem pulled out on the eve of the event due to a knee injury. Pakistan’s No2 Mohammad Yasir Sultan featured in the javelin throw event but he finished fourth with a throw of 78.13 metre.

The rest of the athletes did not impress.

In boxing, Pakistan’s Mohammad Qasim and premier boxer and Asian Championship bronze medallist Zohaib Rasheed won one bout each. Zohaib lost to an Uzbekistan boxer in the 51kg quarter-finals. Qasim exited at the round of 16 while Ibrahim and Fatima Zehra exited at the first hurdles.

Pakistan had not prepared boxers well. Although they were trained at Islamabad for a few months their standard was seen as too low and in future the authorities will need to give them foreign training opportunities for months on a regular basis.

In taekwondo, the country remained unimpressive despite giving the fighters huge exposure and foreign training opportunities.

The country’s seasoned fighter Haroon Khan was expected to give a breakthrough but he fell in his first fight. Omar Hamza,won the initial fight, but fell in the quarter-finals.

Pakistan’s journey in hockey was pathetic. After recording a few wins against little known teams the nation faced a huge 10-2 drubbing at the hands of India before losing to Japan 3-2. Hence, a premature exit.

National swimmers also failed to leave any impression and almost all of them finished at the rock bottom with a few recording their best timings. It’s a question mark on the performance of the Pakistan Swimming Federation (PSF) and the authorities must ask them what they are doing despite having years of experience of handling swimming.

In weightlifting, Usman Rathore and Furqan Anwar featured without any notable achievements while Abdullah Butt was about to take part in the super heavyweight on Saturday.

The country’s seasoned weightlifter and the Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nooh Dastagir Butt was sorely missed. He could have won a bronze had he featured in the event. His entry was not sent after he missed the trials. Everybody knows that politics damaged the super athlete’s career. The responsible people should look into this matter as the country cannot tolerate wasting such a gem of an athlete.

National wrestlers were set to start their journey on October 6 as Mohammad Bilal was ready to take on a Kazakh wrestler in the 57 kilogramme competitions.

The bridge, rowing, golf and archery journey was also frustrating and national fencers and climbers also flopped. All four wushu fighters exited at the first hurdles. Pakistan had a few productive appearances in wushu at the Asian Games from 2006 to 2014 when they won medals but this time some of the top players either got unfit or migrated to other countries to seek greener pastures.

In volleyball, Pakistan showed guts and finished fifth after beating India 3-0 in the fifth place play-off. Pakistan had finished at the eighth place in the previous Asian Games in Indonesia in 2018.

The credit goes to Brazilian coach Issanaye Ramires Ferraz who handled the side quite well in the event.

In karate, Fakhrunnisa exited after losing her two fights while Hamayun, Mohammad Awais and Sabira Gul were yet to compete. The country’s seasoned fighter Saadi Abbas pulled out of the event due to an injury.

Pakistan will need to work harder if it wants to develop in this sport.

For the last few decades the nation has been struggling in sports. It is an alarming situation. I don’t think anyone will take responsibility for the below-par performance in Hangzhou. Pakistan Sports Board should immediately convene its Board meeting to discuss the failure of the country in the quadrennial extravaganza. Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) also will need to hold an urgent meeting with the entire Olympic family to discuss and devise ways to promote sports in the country. Both PSB and POA will have to be proactive and remove all the hurdles which have caused the pathetic performance in the Games.

Some sports like athletics and weightlifting were badly hit by politics and everybody knows the issues which need to be addressed.The country’s seasoned weightlifter Nooh Dastagir Butt could not feature in the Games because of politics which has destroyed some key disciplines.

The Ministry of IPC should also note all these issues and it should try to resolve them so that a clean sports environment could be created. When there is unity in the camp God will help you and medals will come but we are against each other and trying to do leg pulling and so we invite the wrath of the God Almighty.

We never will achieve success unless we reform ourselves. There is a huge question mark over the way our sports is being governed. The performance we have produced in the Asian Games is unacceptable. It is humiliating for a populous country like Pakistan with loads of talent. Even Sri Lanka, which has been going through a deep economic crisis, did better than us.

Let’s put our heads together and decide how the country’s sports could be developed.

The problems should be openly discussed at a big forum. Having the experience of covering sports for 22 years I firmly believe that there is a need for a major overhaul. We don’t have any strategy for sports development. We don’t have the required infrastructure. We waste money on unimportant activities. Our sports authorities are seen at loggerheads with each other.

There is nepotism and favouritism. Relatives should not be in any federation. Federations also should have opposition benches and act democratically so that their performance could be criticised. If there is no opposition and if we expel those who question in the general council then we will never make any progress. Those at the helm will always remain complacent as they will never feel performance pressure. Some federations did not even hold camps for the Asian Games and their performance was disastrous.

The same people get elected repeatedly and we don’t bother despite their below-par performance. We also need to bring reforms at the PSB level. We need technocrats and effective administrators in the structure. We are wasting the efficiency of the PSB directors who are sitting in the provinces looking after the PSB Coaching Centres which lack training facilities. These directors cannot operate independently as they are bound to ask the centre for tackling even minor matters. They should be given authority so that they could boost the earning of their respective centres which will help reduce the financial pressure on the PSB. Hope the authorities note my points.

Pakistan’s Asian Games debacle