Pakistan judo team hopes for a wildcard for the 2012 Olympics after departing for the Asian Senior Championship that begins in Tashkent today.
A five-member squad – Karamat Butt, Shah Hussain, Shahzaib, Humaira Ashiq and Fauzia – will participate in five categories with the athletes needing to reach to the quarter-finals in order to get the wild-card.
According to the Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF) President Shujat Ali Rana, the team’s primary aim for the trip is international exposure but has high hopes from Hussain who has been training in Japan.
“We are aware that Pakistani judokas aren’t as experienced and we are not expecting them to win the championship,” Rana told The Express Tribune. “Our aim is to give them international exposure because participation in these events will pave the way for a better future. However, I do believe that Hussain can surprise us. He’s been training in Japan so I hope he can find the form and strength to become the first Pakistani athlete to take part in an Olympics judo event.”
Meanwhile, Rana added that his priority was to convince the World Judo Federation (WJF) to hold international events in Pakistan. He will be travelling with the team to attend a WJF meeting with helping the sport in Pakistan high on his agenda.
“We need two things: The international events and an infrastructure to run the academies. We don’t need the money. I’ll ask the WJF to donate us some kits and fighting platforms. We want to establish judo academies in schools.”
Earlier, the team had to delay their flight to Tashkent due to lack of funds as the Pakistan Sports Board had failed to allocate the money – the team was originally scheduled to leave on April 22.
“It would’ve been helpful had the athletes reached Tashkent a little earlier to get a feel for the place and the competition. Right now, our athletes are inexperienced and it will take them some time to get used to the conditions and that may affect their game since they start with the championship the morning after they arrive.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2012.
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