Pakistan’s pathetic performance in the Asian Games escaped the scrutiny of the media due to ongoing cricket World Cup
Pakistan was recently exposed at the 19th Asian Games in Hang-zhou with a disastrous performance which should be a wake-up call for all the sports authorities.
The first thing is that we should have sent only those athletes to Hangzhou who could fight gracefully in the continent’s major extravaganza whose standard is very high, especially in power sports where one can see world and Olympic champions in abundance.
Some people will argue that the athletes were sent for exposure but I don’t believe in this. If athletes were sent for exposure, then why don’t federations send full-fledged squads to their important international events of the annual calendars of their respective sports disciplines? To the Asian Games they are ready to send every athlete if the state backs them. We should learn sports management and administration.
We should work harder and develop our athletes, groom them well in the international circuit before opting to field them in such major events. If we look at the performance of our players in table tennis, badminton, fencing, archery, climbing sports, swimming, wushu, weightlifting and even wrestling it was nothing less than a disaster. Even our hockey team looked too weak a unit and it is indeed a sign of worry for the authorities who are making their last-ditch effort to save their federation.
I have been saying for the last few years that we don’t have the will to develop our sports. We don’t take it as a mission to see our sports flourishing.
The authorities are lucky that they did not face severe criticism from the cricket-crazy Pakistan media which is busy covering the ICC World Cup being held in India. Had the media given the Olympic sports even twenty percent of their attention they could have built pressure on the sports governing bodies. But in this cricket-mad country the authorities of the rest of the sports disciplines will keep enjoying their lives because whatever they produce no one questions them. And like in the past the recent Asian Games debacle will also be forgotten soon. The authorities have silently returned home and some don’t even want to interact with the media because of their athletes’ lacklustre performance in the Asian Games where even Sri Lanka and Afghanistan finished at better places than the populous Pakistan which is brimming with talent in so many disciplines.
After the Asian Games debacle it is now up to the authorities to think how long this poor patch of the country will continue in the international circuit.
Now the immediate task in hand is the Olympics Qualifiers and the state and the relevant federations should now completely focus on them so that we could ensure some more players directly qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Four of our athletes have so far qualified for the Olympics. The premier javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem leads the pack which also includes shooters Ghulam Mustafa Bashir and Gulfam Joseph and eventer Usman Khan who will need to maintain his standing. Usman is in Europe focusing on his job.
We have more chances in shooting where we also won our first ever medal in the Asian Games through Kishmala Talat. Both Kishmala and Usman Chand have the opportunity to press for the Olympics seats.
Javelin thrower Mohammad Yasir Sultan also has a chance. The qualifying deadline for javelin is June 30, 2024, and he can avail himself of all chances to press for the Olympic seat. He will need to manage a throw of 85.50 metres if he is to qualify for the Olympics.
In wrestling we have two chances in the shape of the Asian and World Qualifying rounds to be held next year while national boxers also will get two more opportunities in the shape of two world qualification rounds next year to press for the Olympics seats.
In taekwondo, Pakistan has hope with Haroon Khan and Omar Hamza having the capability. It is hoped a few more will be able to book their Olympics seats.
The state should completely focus on those athletes who have qualifying chances. They should also be sent abroad for training so that they could prepare better. The best thing will be to get the best out of the available cream. And those who have already qualified will need more attention from the state and the relevant federations so that they could train well for the major extravaganza.
The premier javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem should be of prime focus of the authorities as he is the only athlete of Pakistan who can win a medal in the Paris Olympics. He recently pulled out of the Asian Games due to right knee injury and I have learnt that the relevant federation is assessing the nature of his injury. Arshad is at his hometown in Mian Channu and it is not yet known when he will return to Lahore to undergo a rehab. He is the sole medal hope in the Olympics and effort should be made to tackle his injury issue well and keep him away from politics which can damage his career.