Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Govt to finance training of Tokyo-bound athletes

KARACHI: In a major development, Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has decided to finance training and related matters of all those athletes who have qualified for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

This correspondent has learnt that in the PSB Exco meeting held last month in Islamabad it was decided that training of three shooters and athlete Arshad Nadeem would be financed while Melbourne-based equestrian Usman Khan would be compensated for the purchase of the new horse. Usman’s previous horse Azad Kashmir died last year.

The PSB informed the Equestrian Federation of Pakistan (EFP) through a letter on January 4 that the PSB Executive Committee has decided to compensate Usman for the purchase of the new horse. The EFP has also been advised by the PSB to inform it of the cost of the new horse purchased by Usman for the purpose.

The PSB has stressed that EFP should coordinate with Usman and submit a proper bill/invoice to meet the audit requirement so that he could be financially supported.

Near the end of 2019 Usman became the first Pakistani equestrian to make it to the world’s most prestigious event through his horse Azad Kashmir.

Usman will have to maintain his eventing seat until the end of the qualifiers in June this year. He recently cleared the first hurdle in Robertson, Australia. He will need to feature in at least four more qualifying events to retain his spot.

Usman has been labouring hard for the last 15 years on a self-finance basis to earn laurels for the country.

Meanwhile, PSB informed Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) that the government would sponsor training, equipment, foreign coach and competition tours of javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem. The PSB said that the state would bear expenses of Arshad’s training in Lahore, four-month training in Kazakhstan or Finland, two foreign competition tours, hiring a foreign coach for four months and purchase of throwing equipment and training gear as requested by the AFP.

Arshad has already started preparation under the state patronage in Lahore. Arshad became the first Pakistani in athletics history to qualify for Olympics with a superb 86.29 metre throw he managed in the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal in 2019.

The AFP has already arranged a training tour of Kazakhstan for Arshad and he will be sent when travel restrictions are lifted.

Similarly, the PSB will cover the expenses of shooters Ghulam Mustafa Bashir, Khalil Akhtar and Gulfam Joseph who have qualified for Olympics.

The coverage includes hiring of a foreign coach for 17 and a half weeks (three phases) as has been planned by the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP).

Moreover, the state will finance the shooters’ participation in ISSF World Cup Changwon (South Korea, April 16-27), Olympic Test Event (Tokyo, April 26-May 2) and ISSF World Cup (Baku, June 22-July 1).

Sources in the PSB told ‘The News’ that IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza has shown great interest in the matter.

However, the state has not yet decided about backing Olympian judoka Shah Hussain and karateka Saadi Abbas. Japan-based Shah has already achieved continental quota as he has to his credit 1026 points and is at the 45th place in the Olympics rankings.

He will need to maintain this slot, featuring in a few more qualifying events until summer.

Saadi is labouring hard in Dubai to score more points in a couple of Olympic qualifying events to earn a seat in Tokyo’s Games.

Source: The News

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