Time to prepare for Olympics

September 6, 2020

The government must arrange training and coaching for those who have either qualified or are close to qualifying, and meet their diet and travelling expenses right till Olympics

The world is slowly coming out of lockdowns and sports activities are gradually resuming within the required protocols. International Sports Federations (ISFs) are slowly announcing tentative calendars, not knowing exactly what may happen regarding pandemic in future. ISFs prefer announcing immediate events in those countries which are least affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. All focus is on Olympic qualifying events. Pakistani players who have qualified so far want best preparations for the Tokyo Olympics while those aiming to qualify are looking forward to quality training and resources to realise their dreams of becoming Olympians.

Five Pakistani players have so far qualified. They are shooters Ghulam Mohammad Bashir, Khalil Akhtar and Gulfam Joseph, javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem and Melbourne-based horse-rider Usman Khan.

Japan-based judoka Shah Hussain has achieved continental quota and he only has to maintain his current ranking until the end of qualifiers. Karateka Saadi Abbas is also an Olympic prospect. In boxing, too, we have an opportunity in the shape of world qualifiers next year in Paris. In other sports like wrestling and weightlifting we have distant chances.

This is the perfect time for the relevant federations and state to focus on these specific athletes. The government must arrange training and coaching for them, and meet their diet and travelling expenses until the Olympics. Any kind of laxity on the part of the authorities and government would damage Pakistan’s Olympic cause.

Olympian Shah Hussain needs foreign training. Currently he is facing problems in Japan as far as his training is concerned. He should be sent to a country with a solid judo background for training.

The International Judo Federation (IJF) has announced imminent return of the World Judo Tour starting with the Budapest Grand Slam which will take place in late October and will be followed by the Tokyo Grand Slam in December. The World Judo Masters will be held at the beginning of 2021 in Doha, Qatar. All three events offer qualification points for the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. The continental unions are also planning the organisation of several continental events before the end of the year.

The IJF has stressed that this schedule is tentative and can be reviewed keeping in view the situation. Already having Olympics experience, Shah Hussain, if trained properly, can fight for a medal in what could be his last Olympics.

“I will definitely go for a medal,” Shah told ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) from Tokyo. “I have the experience and know-how to fight for a medal but what I need is hard training,” Shah said.

Karateka Saadi Abbas is in Dubai these days. He is aiming to renew his contract with Ittehad Kalba Club which he believes will enable him to properly launch his qualifiers preparation. But Saadi needs financial support. He is doing everything by himself for hoisting Pakistan’s flag. He got a sponsor but that is not that serious. He needs a Turkish coach and Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) should manage that for the fighter who has captured loads of international medals for Pakistan during his illustrious career.

Saadi has to appear in the Olympic qualifying round in Morocco in April 2021 before featuring in the last direct qualifiers to be held in Paris in June 2021.

The top three fighters in the eight weight categories in Paris will earn Olympic seats.

“I am optimistic about my chances for qualifying for the Olympics. Let’s see how it goes,” Saadi told TNS.

Australia-based horse-rider Usman Khan will write history for Pakistan’s equestrian when he becomes the first rider of the country to feature in the Olympics. He is training hard. “My training did not stop because of the lockdown, as we train for hot and humid Tokyo weather with sweat suits,” Usman told TNS from Melbourne.

“We have four flatwork days a week, one cavaletti session and one jump and rest day. Endurance work is minimal to protect the legs. We will commence light gallop work close to events,” Usman said.

Usman also needs support. He has spent millions to achieve his goal during his 15-year-long endeavour.

The three shooters underwent a month-long training in Germany early this year. However, it would be of immense importance if they are sent again for training so that they could learn more and fight gracefully in the most competitive Olympic environment.

Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) is once again planning to manage a foreign training programme for javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem who created history when he made it to Olympics with a stupendous 86.29 metre throw during the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal last year. The AFP wants to send him either to Finland or Kazakhstan. Arshad has a medal chance in the Tokyo Games as he is already in the medal bloc. If he manages a 90-plus throw it will certainly land him on the victory podium. He is highly talented and determined and can do anything on a given day. Arshad’s camp should be immediately started as he did not train much during the five-month lockdown.

During training camp the PSB should also ensure the best diet for the 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist. He is a huge asset of the country and should be looked after properly.

Instead of wasting time, PSB should start backing all the above mentioned athletes in their Olympics bids.

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Time to prepare for Olympics