Pakistani skiers set out on their tour of Europe in a bid to earn qualification points for the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi.
Mohammad Abbas, Mir Nawaz and Mohammad Karim will participate in Italy, Lebanon, Austria and Turkey next month in a series of events at the Europe Cup 2013.
With Karim already training in Austria, the two-member team left for Italy yesterday for the 30-day tour where the athletes will take part in four events.
The players need to earn at least 140 points to qualify for the Winter Olympics. They will represent Pakistan in four events, all under the Europe Cup that simultaneously takes place in different European ski resorts.
Abbas said he was confident Pakistan could not only qualify but also win medals at the Winter Olympics.
“It’s my first participation in any European event and they are very competitive,” Abbas told The Express Tribune. “It’s tough because European athletes have better slopes, while we prepare in Naltar and the slope over here is not of international standard. However, I believe we are the people of the mountains, we naturally adapt to any slope we face. This time around my aim is to do better than before. I had finished fourth in 2009 in Kazakhstan out of more than 60 skiers at the giant slalom event. I aim to improve my pace and win a medal in the qualifiers too.”
Meanwhile, a team of four boys from Naltar will also tour Tajikistan for the Asian Children Skiing Championship starting from February 28.
Whereas, the women skiers still wait for a go ahead from the federation for participation in international events to begin their campaign for the Winter Olympics 2014 qualification.
“We are still waiting and hoping that the federation will send us to the qualifiers too,” said Aminah Wali, the 2011 South Asian winter games medalist said. “We are very happy the men’s team is participating in Europe, it’s very inspiring. However, the women skiers in Pakistan also have the talent to qualify for the Olympics. As a full-time skier it is my life-long dream too, and I hope the federation has a plan for women skiers as well.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2013.