Saturday, July 17, 2010

Athletes lament Asian Games, CWG snub

Saturday, July 17, 2010
By By Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: The decision of the Pakistan’s sports authorities to exclude athletics from the list of disciplines for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games to be held later this year has left the top athletes of the country disappointed.

“After returning from South Asian Games early this year, we did not go home but went straight to the camps because we were told that we will have to appear in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. But after having spent three and a half months in the camps, suddenly, the other day we were informed that the authorities don’t want to send athletes to these games and so we had no option but to go home,” the country’s leading discus thrower Basharat Ali, who won gold in South Asian Games, told ‘The News’ from Attock on Friday.

He said it is the desire of every athlete to feature in the Olympics, CW Games and Asian Games, saying, one cannot help if the government does not want to send the athletes to India and China for the two major events.

“If the authorities were not interested to send us to India and China then why they kept us in the camps for so long as the training will give us no help if we are to stay out of these competitions,” Basharat questioned. “I don’t see any other opportunity for the country’s athletes to compete at international level this year,” Basharat said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s top triple jumper Zafar Iqbal said that he was greatly shocked by the decision of the government to deprive athletes of the chance to show their mettle in the two big events.

“Asian Games and CW Games are the real platforms where one can learn a lot of things. I had a chance to finish at the victory stand in the Asian Games. Record of the Asian Games is 17.32 metres but normally a gold comes at 16.90 or 17.00 metres. I had recorded 16.45 in the National Games in 2007 in Karachi. I am also the record holder of the South Asian Athletics Championship when I recorded 16.42 in India in 2008. And with time at hand I could have transformed myself into a position in which I could come on the victory podium in the Asian Games,” Sargodha-born South Asian Games gold medalist Zafar said.

“It’s a very bad decision to drop athletics and I must say that we should have been given the chance,” he said.

The secretary of the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) Khalid Mehmood also lamented the decision, saying, without giving exposure to the athletes, it is difficult to raise the standard of the game.

“I don’t think it could have made any difference if two or three athletes were given the chance to feature in these competitions. Its shocking,” the disappointed Khalid said.

With the athletics, swimming is the other event, which has been scratched from the list for these competitions.
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