KARACHI: After promising improvement when the national contingent returned empty-handed from Beijing four years ago, the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) seems to be following the same road.
Hockey remains the front-runner in bagging a medal at this year’s London Olympics and while Pakistan failed to confirm berths in other disciplines, the POA hoped that wild-card entrants will be able make a mark at the spectacle.
Shah to be Pakistan’s chef de mission
Meanwhile, a senior POA official confirmed that at least a 36-member contingent will be flying to London to represent the country. The POA Vice-President and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Sports Minister Syed Akil Shah will be the contingent’s chef de mission.
Wild cards in athletics and swimming
POA Secretary Khalid Mehmood added that Pakistan has been granted wild cards in athletics and swimming. “Now we’re hoping for a wild card in shooting as well,” Mehmood told The Express Tribune. “The POA has finalised the contingent and if we get the shooting wild card one shooter and one official will be added to it.”
The secretary said a decision was expected to be made before May 15.
However, Mehmood also pinned hopes on Pakistan rowers to seal their places for the event as they lock horns with their continental counterparts at the Asian Olympic Qualifying Regatta in South Korea this week. The Pakistan Rowing Federation (PRF) has sent three rowers to compete in the event that will start on April 26. “We will love to see rowers confirming their berths as it will expand our group,” said Mehmood.
While Mehmood kept his hopes alive, the PRF officials have stated that there are minimal chances of the rowers qualifying for the Olympics due to their inexperience.
‘Hockey main hope’
The POA secretary admitted that hockey remained the main medal-winning hope for London Games just like it was for the Beijing Olympics.
“Our main hope is hockey,” said Mehmood. “We have a rich Olympics history in hockey and our team has the potential to do well.
“We cannot hope for medals in athletics, swimming or in shooting citing our international standings which is very low in these disciplines. But we will be more than happy if athletes are able to put on a good show.”
History repeating itself
It may be recalled that a 35-member Pakistan contingent participated in the 29th Beijing Olympic Games in August 2008.
Pakistan competed in the hockey event after going through a qualifying phase while participation in athletics, swimming and shooting was courtesy wild-card entries.
However, the contingent returned without a medal after the Greenshirts finished a poor eighth, while the wild-card entrants also failed to make a mark.
This year, too, does not seem to be headed in a different direction.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.
More in SportsAamir clinches squash event