Rowing gains popularity in Pakistan

Sports gaining popularity as Ammar Allana, others impress in Asian championships.

Natasha Raheel September 01, 2016
Allana emerged as Pakistan’s top individual rower, finishing fourth at the scull 1,000m event. PHOTO COURTESY: AMMAR ALLANA

KARACHI: Rowing grows in popularity in Pakistan and, having already established itself in some of the country’s premier schools; it is now producing players capable of competing at international events.

In July’s Asia Rowing Cup II, Pakistan was represented by the Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) School, and the 13-member team managed to bring back a bronze medal at the school’s competition in the boys’ fours 1,000m event in Singapore.

Muhammad Ammar Zaheer Allana also emerged as the country’s top individual rower, finishing fourth at the scull 1,000m event.

For 15-year-old Ammar, who was making his debut at an international event, the competition was a great learning experience as the youngster started rowing two years ago and found he had the knack for it.

He finished fourth in the schools competition, narrowly missing out on bronze, and also impressed in the main round of the Asia Cup, where he finished sixth; a commendable achievement considering he was the youngest competitor in the event.

“It was my first independent experience and it was absolutely thrilling,” Ammar told The Express Tribune. “I learned a lot during my stay in Singapore; the true essence of sportsmanship, team work, discipline and most importantly how to do my own laundry. The competition was extremely tough as I was the youngest rower around.”

Ambitions aplenty

Ammar now eyes the prospect of representing Pakistan at the Olympics one day, while he wants to win the Asian Championship at the Association of School Rowing Championship in the near future.

He is training rigorously for the national championships in November, rowing both ‘indoors’ and in the open sea in order to maintain his form.

“To become a top rower, we have to row at least twice every day,” he said. “A rower has to row thousands of meters every day in order to get stamina and speed up to par.”

The youngster is eyeing qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a whole host of medals before that too. “I still have four years for Olympics, but I want to win medals at the Asian championship and Association of School Rowing of Asia for my school. In the Asia Cup, I was representing my school at the U19 event and Pakistan at the U25 event against athletes from 12 other countries.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2016.

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