KARACHI: Pakistan, for the first time, will be represented at the World Games’ ju-jitsu event by Abu Huraira and Muhammad Ammar when the tournament kicks off on July 29 in Poland.
Ammar, the 2015 ju-jitsu World Championship silver medallist, sees the World Games as his chance to finally grab gold with teammate Huraira in duo system competition, where they will form not only the only Pakistani pair but also be the only Asian participants.
“It’s an honour for us to be the first athletes in the history of Pakistan to qualify for World Games in jiu-jitsu,” Ammar told The Express Tribune from Wroclaw before adding: “This is going to be our second experience at a major event so there is so much at stake. We only have eyes for gold medal, silver just won’t cut it.”
Regarding the level of competition he expects, he said: “A lot has changed in the two years since I began competing at the World Championships; most martial artists have improved so the competition will be tougher and unpredictable. But our preparations have been good. We’ve worked very hard in the past few months.”
Huraira and Ammar, according to Pakistan Jujitsu Federation (PJJF) coach Tariq Ali, have already made the country proud by taking the Pakistani flag to places it had never been before.
“This is the first time our players have qualified for the World Games,” said Ali, who trained the duo in Karachi. “It is a huge step for Pakistani martial arts community because we’ve been trying to secure this qualification for so many years. We are proud of these boys.”
The training camp was far from ideal but Ali says him and the athletes did the best they could.
“The national camp organised by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) was helpful but there was a break before Ramazan and for almost two months the players had to train in Karachi by themselves,” said Ali. “This was a major setback because coaching the players is much easier and efficient at a national camp. However, we have made sure they are mentally and physically prepared for the challenge in Poland.”
But the coach wants his charges to not be content with just participation and urged them to vie for a podium finish.
“Ammar and Huraira are both very hardworking and they’ve had an impeccable record since 2009,” said Ali. “They have this hunger to win which sets them apart from the rest so we are hoping we’ll be getting good news from Poland.”