Lack of finances thwarting Abbas’ Olympic dreams

Aims to become first Pakistani karateka to represent country at Games

Natasha Raheel January 28, 2017

KARACHI: 2014 US Open and 2011 Asian Karate Championship winner, Pakistan’s Saddi Abbas is aiming to become the first Pakistani karateka to represent the country at the Olympics, however, he needs the support of the government to fulfil his objective.

Karate has not been part of the Olympic programme in the past but the International Olympic Committee announced in 2015 that the sport would be part of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Abbas has been the best karateka from Pakistan with an impressive career that began with winning the South Asian Games in 2006 and then going out to making his name internationally.

While Abbas enjoyed a good career with UAE’s Al-Ahli Sports Club during his time-off from representing Pakistan, the former Lyariite feels it is an opportunity of a life-time to have a chance of representing Pakistan at the Olympics.

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“It’s been a tough road for me,” Abbas told The Express Tribune. “Apparently having talent and dedication is not enough, it is a team effort after all. Whatever I’ve achieved so far, it was all my own effort and the Pakistan Karate Federation (PKF) being kind enough to send my documents every time I have to compete abroad. But we need more money, sponsors, some kind of plan to support us. I’m looking at the 2020 Olympics and when it was confirmed in 2015 that karate was going to be one of the disciplines in Tokyo, it gave me hope, because I had almost quit karate after winning the US Open in 2014.”

Abbas has made a three-year plan to achieve his dream, but is finding it difficult to stick to that plan. For instance, he should have been competing at the Paris Open in his usual -67kg category, but he failed to get a spot in due to lack of finances.

He also reached the fourth round of the World Karate Championship in October last year, but again lost to a Turkish athlete, who was with his team of coaches and physicians, while Abbas was all alone.

“I went to the world championships in Austria last year and I still have my ranking among the top 100 players in the world. But in order to even compete at the Olympic qualification rounds, I will need to improve my rankings in the series. Olympics will only feature top 10 athletes in the main draw; all I can do is making sure I’m among the top 10 in a year’s time as the Olympics qualification round will start next year,” said Abbas. “That is if I get sponsors and so far the response has only discouraged me.”

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Abbas will also represent the country at the Islamic Solidarity Games in May in addition to the Asian Championship in July and the Commonwealth Championships later this year.

He will need to feature in at least eight out of 10 World Series events this year to have a chance to qualify for the Olympics.

Pakistan Premier Karate League

Abbas, on the other hand, has worked up a plan to start a karate league in Pakistan and he is hoping to begin this year.

“I feel it is a high time for Pakistanis to have their own karate league,” said Abbas. “I can get foreign players to come to Pakistan, but more importantly it is the local talent that will benefit from it. I’ve discussed it with PKF and they are on board. We are finalising the details with a sports management agency as well.”

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