Pakistan-origin woman set to make history as first Baloch female Olympian

Published: August 17, 2016
Madiea bagged a bronze medal in the 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships in Estonia, where she finished third in the women’s 400m event. PHOTO COURTESY: MADIEA GHAFOOR

Madiea bagged a bronze medal in the 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships in Estonia, where she finished third in the women’s 400m event. PHOTO COURTESY: MADIEA GHAFOOR

On Friday, 23-year-old athlete Madiea Ghafoor will create history when she becomes the first Baloch girl to take part at the Olympics.

The youngster, who will be representing the Netherlands in the 4x400m relay along with her team in Rio, was born and raised in Amsterdam. Her parents though belong to Lyari, and she is the granddaughter of the late Lal Baksh Rind, a senior politician whose diverse work included striving for the betterment of the relatively impoverished locality in Karachi.

Talking about her ethnic uniqueness in the Games, Madiea revealed she was unaware that she was the first female Baloch to feature at the Olympics.

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“I feel honoured to be a part of this huge event and to be an inspiration for the Baloch people, especially the youth,” she said. “I had no idea I was the first Baloch girl to participate at the Games until someone informed me about that. This has made me even more determined to do the best I can.”

Madiea said she has been involved in track and field since a young age and was spotted when she was 13.

“We had a sports event at my high school where my coach Sammy Monsels noticed my potential and asked me if I would pursue formal training,” she said. “Ten years down the road, I’m training in the Olympic stadium in Amsterdam with the help of my coach Urtha Rozenstruik.”

And Madiea has impressed in her career so far. She bagged a bronze medal in the 2011 European Athletics Junior Championships in Estonia, where she finished third in the women’s 400m event, and has raced for the Netherlands in indoor European championships as well, reaching the semi-finals.

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According to Madiea, she was pleasantly surprised to be selected for the current Olympics as she had had a bad year due to injury. “I was stunned when I received the news, but I was grateful as well,” she said. “I have prepared myself physically and mentally for the relay the best I could, and hope I can vindicate my selection.”

Madiea said she trains eight times a week — six days on the track and at least two sessions dedicated to gym

Her message for athletes aspiring to enter the realm of Olympics is simple, “Never give up on your dreams.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Raghu
    Aug 17, 2016 - 2:27PM

    Media trying its best to get some links with the winning olympians. What a sad day.Recommend

  • hari
    Aug 17, 2016 - 3:38PM

    Yes, the first Olympian with origins from the occupied country of Balochistan. All the best to her.Recommend

  • kilo
    Aug 17, 2016 - 4:12PM

    We have already forgotten another young Baloch….Qandeel Baloch she too was an inspiration in her own way Recommend

  • Azzum.
    Aug 17, 2016 - 4:27PM

    Why is it specifically ‘Baloch’? Have you already decided to sliver off Baluchistan from pakistan?
    To the commentator hari – you must be Indian to call it occupied country of Baluchistan. First of all it’s not an occupation. Secondly your story isn’t different from Israel you robbers!Recommend

  • Humiliation.
    Aug 17, 2016 - 5:02PM

    Both Pakistan and India are the same in these Olympics, both are trying to find ways and means to find linkages. Why cannot Pakistan produce athletes sportsmen and women to win medals. This will be the fourth straight Olympic games when Pakistan will not be represented on the Podium. A population of 180 million and not one medal in 16 years, that is very very humiliating as a citizen of Pakistan. Pakistan has all the potential yet we do not know how to groom this talent. Olympics is a show case for most countries, but unfortunately not for us. Best wishes to Madiea. Recommend

  • Hope
    Aug 17, 2016 - 6:19PM

    One day when we’ll get rid of menace of terrorists and terrorism, [email protected]: Recommend

  • Shakil Ahmed
    Aug 17, 2016 - 6:37PM

    This prove that talent is there in Pakistan but Pakistan government lack of sports interest failing all the budding athletes. If they get the supporting environment, they can wonders.

    So this might be product of Netherland sports facilities, person is very much of Pakistani genes.Recommend

    Aug 17, 2016 - 6:43PM

    @Indian, I don’t know why you people interfere my country’s matter, Either she is Baloch origin or Punjabi origin, its NON of your business. Recommend

  • XoF
    Aug 17, 2016 - 8:22PM

    Indians commenting now a days about different origins of Pakistan MUST know that India itself was not a country, and got its name after the efforts of Muslims to break the region. There was no India…its a region of many nations/communities who dnt want to live together. Hind keeps breaking with time for betterment. Recommend

  • Qazi Rahim
    Aug 17, 2016 - 8:49PM

    You make it to the Olympics by practising 8 times a week and not be praying 35 times a week. That is the lesson to be learnt here.Recommend

  • Shakil Ahmed
    Aug 17, 2016 - 9:29PM

    If Balochistan is a country then think about how many countries will be created from India?
    so try look inside your home! Pakistan is there to stay whatever Indian think about it. Pakistan is the only country that stand up to India in the region contrary to Indian wet dreams! Recommend

  • Xnain
    Aug 17, 2016 - 10:22PM

    because a commercial minded society consistently being professed militancy and extremism can only produce jobseekers, militants and suicide bombers.Recommend

  • Sudeer Baloch
    Aug 17, 2016 - 10:25PM

    An other baloch girl (Aisha al balooshi) from u.a.e also participating in rio Olympics Recommend

  • MK
    Aug 17, 2016 - 11:52PM


    Lyari is in Sindh province, but inhabited by Baluch. In fact only quarter of total Baluch in Pakistan, live in Baluchistan province, another Quarter live in Sindh, and half of all Pakistani Baluch live in Punjab. And they have been living there for centuries, they are considered natives of that area.

    Baluch are part of local social fabric, in Southern Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. Baluch in Southern Punjab live side by side with local tribes (mostly Jat Tribes). Punjab has had Baluch Governors and a CM, all from Punjab but of Baluch ethnicity.

    Her parents being from Lyari, would make her a Sindhi Baluch, just like former Pakistan President Asif Zardari, who is a Sindhi speaking Baluch. Another former President of Pakistan, Farooq Leghari was a Baluch from Punjab.

    Indians can stop dreaming now. Recommend

  • stop taking credit
    Aug 18, 2016 - 12:37AM

    Yes she is ethnically Baloch and may be proud of that but her talent was identified and groomed by Netherlands, she was given chance by Netherlands so Pakistan have no right on her success maybe ethnic Baloch can feel the pride of her being one of them but Pakistan as a state has no right on her success. Recommend

  • Khalid Bugti
    Aug 18, 2016 - 12:50AM


    I just want to add to your comment here which is 100% true. There are Balochs in UAE (al-Balushi tribe). I have a Saudi friend and he mentioned a lot of Sindhis and Baluch when they went for Hajj (in the olden times), settled there. There are now considered Arabs but still bear al-Sindhi and al-Balushi names that traces them back to this region.

    80% of the Baluchs in Pakistan are with Pakistan. I am not going to lie and say everything is at peace. We want our rights but the vast majority still love this country.
    As for Gilgit-Baltistan, I consider them more patriotic than Punjabis (who consider themselves custodians of Pakistan). Despite discrimination, they love this country.

    India is just playing this game because it has failed to contain the genuine freedom stuggle in Kashmir. Modi reacted because despite force they could not contain the freedom struggle. Then, they started pouring so much money in Kashmir (to buy their loyalty) but have again failed. Their own talk shows show how Kashmir is granted special status and so much assistance is given to Kashmiris.

    Kashmiris are racially, culturally, ethnically and religiously better suited to be with Pakistan.

    Long live Kashmir! Long Live Balochistan! Long live Pakistan!Recommend

  • Woz ahmed
    Aug 18, 2016 - 1:52AM

    We need hard rules on who is a Pakistani.

    When someone murders abroad and are naturalised they are not Pakistani even if they were born here.

    Now someone who is born abroad is claimed as one of ours.Recommend

  • Seek the Truth
    Aug 18, 2016 - 1:56AM

    I don’t know if she has anything to do with Balochistan or Baloch but my experience while living in a number of European countries is that people who migrate there from third world countries don’t give a damn to their original countries. Initially, older generation living in West wished to be buried in their native lands. But now this trend has changed. How many dead bodies of people living in UK, France, Netherlands and other European countries are brought back to Pakistan for burial these days? Almost none. Because, people prefer to bury in their new adopted lands in Europe. The next generation of Pakistanis living abroad feels shame to call themselves Pakistanis. They call themselves Europeans.

    Disclaimer: I have lived and experienced life in Germany, Italy, UK, Denmark, Slovenia, Hungary and Austria for more than six months in each. The situation might be different in other countries where I have not been.Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Aug 18, 2016 - 9:01AM

    I appreciate her participation in Olympic, it does not matter k she is representing Holand, her parents belong to Pakistan, this is sufficient enough. it is honour for Baluchs and every Pakistan I as well, specially for every Karaxhites.
    I don’t know k Amir Khan belonging from which area of Pakistan but I know he visited Lyari because of extra ordinary talent in Lyari’s youth.

    one should be careful to pass any negative remarks against Baluchs, Sindhies, Mohajirs, pakhtoons, and Punjabies.Recommend

  • Humza
    Aug 18, 2016 - 9:29AM

    @Seek the Truth: The majority of ethnic persons you see settled in continental Europe went as refugees who had to smuggle themselves in and then explain that they are running away for some reason or another and need “panah” whether true or not. This is true for Sri Lankans, Iranians, Somalis, Syrians, Iraqis and Afghan refugees living in European countries. So if you have to describe this type of story to justify why you should be given asylum in a European country, you can’t go ahead and say you liked it in your country too. Congratulations to this girl who is participating in the Olympics. I am sure she is proud of her Baluch and Pakistani background if she is from Lyari. At least this is my experience from anyone I have met from there.Recommend

  • Mukhtar
    Aug 18, 2016 - 11:33AM

    My friend. I am from Karachi and I am not Muhajir.Recommend

  • S
    Aug 18, 2016 - 12:37PM

    You do realise qandeel baloch was not even her real name? You Indians just love to comment without having any information while other Indians upvote your commentsRecommend

  • See the Trush
    Aug 18, 2016 - 8:35PM

    @Humza: I think you never lived and met people abroad, especially of Pakistani origin. They hate to term them Pakistanis. If you are so keen on proving her Baloch roots, just send her an e-mail or call her and then hear her reply. I am quite sure you will be satisfied with her response. Recommend

  • M. Emad
    Aug 19, 2016 - 2:06AM

    seems, Baloch people has no future in Pakistan state.Recommend

    Aug 19, 2016 - 2:54AM

    Hey we are nation of 1.252 billion janta. We have “one” bronze medal. HahahaRecommend

  • divergence
    Aug 19, 2016 - 3:21AM

    @kilo: It is best to believe only 1% out of 100% what is being discussed on social media, for your kinder information, qandeel baloch was from Multan. These buffoons Recommend

  • divergence
    Aug 19, 2016 - 3:25AM

    @M. Emad: do you have future? idiotRecommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav
    Aug 19, 2016 - 6:38AM

    Alexander same to “INDIA”. Bin Qasim came to “Hind”. From Changez Khan to SherShah Suri to Babar, all came to “HINDUSTAN”. British came with East “INDIA” company. Before all these invaders, Ashoka had his entire empire in “Bharatvarsh”. You need better books. Ditch your current books.They are crap. Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav
    Aug 19, 2016 - 6:41AM

    I think many of you won’t believe but even Adam was a Punjabi Pakistani. He got into big mess after listening to his wife. His wife was a Punjabi Pakistani too who kept pushing to eat the apple and took whole humanity with her. Finally even God got sick of them and exiled them from Heaven. Recommend

  • Irfan Ahmad Khan
    Aug 19, 2016 - 9:17AM

    I think we should get motivation and solice from the fact that we also be achievers if we have the resolve of doing it.Recommend

    Aug 19, 2016 - 1:03PM

    Well, she is a Baloch, not a Pakistani.Recommend

  • divergence
    Aug 19, 2016 - 4:36PM

    @SRIDHAR KAUSHIK: haha Indian occupied Kashmir is a part of pakistan, not India’s.Recommend

  • Humza
    Aug 19, 2016 - 5:17PM

    @See the Trush: Let me tell you that about Pakistanis in North America who went largely as legal immigrants and not refugees as in Europe. Among the expatriate community not only immigrants but the children of Pakistani immigrants are immensely proud of their Pakistani ancestry as well as their regional affiliation. You don’t know much about Pakistanis but you are probably speaking of the shame Indians have in being Indian.Recommend

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