UAE-based Muhammad Ahmed Durrani is a talented young swimmer with a potential to win international laurels for Pakistan
Muhammad Ahmed Durrani is a swimming star in the making. The youthful swimmer from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who represents Army at the domestic level, showed a lot of promise during the 8th FINA World Junior Swimming Championship in Peru, Lima, a few days ago. He smashed six national under-16 records during the global event. He broke Amaan Siddiqui's national records in 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly and bettered his own four national records in 100m backstroke, 50m backstroke, 50m butterfly and 200m backstroke.
He is based in Dubai with his family as his father Asif Durrani works in the construction industry in the UAE.
Ahmed wants to compete for a long time for Pakistan and earn laurels for the country. Let's ask Ahmed and he will narrate his story about swimming and education and how he manages these two at the same time.
"I started swimming when I was just nine. I was selected in the Jumeirah Primary School team for the next three years -- from 2015 to 2017. I achieved the award of swimmer of the year for three successive years and every year I broke three records," Ahmed told 'The News on Sunday' (TNS) in an interview."My records still stand today. In 2017, I was inducted into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa team and in 2018 I featured for the first time in the 23rd National Junior Swimming Championship held in Peshawar. In that event I smashed under-12 national records for the 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke and 100m backstroke. I managed to achieve three gold medals and two silvers. The silvers came in the 50m freestyle and another event. Since then, there has been no turning back," Ahmed said.
"I came to Lahore and featured in the 24th National Swimming Championship in 2019. I managed to smash the Under-14 100m backstroke record although I was the youngest in that age-group and claimed gold in the 200m backstroke. I also managed to clinch three silvers," Ahmed said.
"In November 2021, I participated in the 25th National Swimming Championship in Lahore while representing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in that event I managed to break four national under-16 records, even though I was the youngest in my category, in 200 IM, 50m backstroke, 100m backstroke and 50m butterfly. I also got gold in the 200m backstroke," Ahmed said.
"I am very passionate about swimming and am very proud of representing Pakistan in the international circuit. InshaAllah I will try to get a medal for Pakistan not only in Asia but also beyond that. I am doing my A levels from Jumeirah College Dubai and my schedule is very rigorous. I do my sessions from 5am to 6am and I start my day early in the morning around 5 am. After doing my sessions I go to attend my school and if there is a need, I also attend my sessions in the evening as well. I am very thankful to the Pakistan Swimming Federation (PSF) for supporting me and enabling me to feature in the 8th FINA Junior World Championship in Lima. It was on a self-finance basis, but I hope going forward I will have additional support from the federation so that I could bring laurels for Pakistan," Ahmed said.
"The swimming standard in Pakistan is going up rapidly. Despite shortcomings I have seen amazing talent there. The young kids from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are outstanding. I am not a dual national. I am a citizen of Pakistan only. My father works in the construction industry and I reside here in the UAE. My mother was born in Peshawar and my father is a Pushtun. Back in 2018, I still remember, when I wanted to come and feature in an event in Pakistan, I faced a lot of challenges. We were discouraged not to come to Pakistan but thank God KP helped me a lot," he said. "And going forward inshaAllah I would like to make my country proud. The support I received from the federation, Pakistan Army, my province KP and Syed Aqil Shah was really commendable. It was due to their blessings that I achieved so many goals," Ahmed signed off.
Ahmed is a real talent and he is lucky to have got a place in the UAE where he is able to get top-level training opportunities. If we look at our national circuit we will find so many athletes who reside abroad but have been instrumental in Pakistan's sports success. Hope Ahmed will take swimming as a profession and will go a long way to earn medals for the country in the international circuit. The big issue in swimming is that we have seen in the past few years that some very talented swimmers residing abroad surfaced, won medals at various stages but vanished when they were given the opportunities to feature in the Olympics. I hope that Ahmed will go with a different approach and will keep playing for the nation for years to come.