Inam Butt eyes Tokyo berth

PWF Secretary Sattar hopes wrestler can qualify for Olympics through Almaty event


Natasha Raheel April 09, 2021
Inamis appearing in Almaty, Kazakhstan, fighting in the 97kg event as well as freestyle competition in the same weight category. PHOTO COURTESY: Dean Treml/United World Wrestling

KARACHI:

“Our hero Muhammad Inam Butt deserves so much better, so much more,” said Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF) Secretary Muhammad Arshad Sattaras he expresses his love for the athlete.

Inam along with Muhammad Bilal and Haroon Abid will begin their campaign at the final continental Olympic qualifier on Friday, April 6.

Sattar believes it is a matter of time and time has been running out since there hasn’t been much support from the government for Pakistan’s first-ever world champion in Beach Wrestling Inam.

Inam will be appearing in Almaty, Kazakhstan, fighting in the 97kg event as well as freestyle competition in the same weight category. He will be joined by Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Bilal in the 57kg category and legendary ‘JharaPehalwan’ ZubairAslam’s grandson Abid in 125kg event.

“We had to push our athletes. We had to push Inam and I feel that he has done so much. I can’t explain how important and difficult it has been for him to just be able to compete,” Sattar told The Express Tribune. “There have been no camps from the Pakistan Sports Board. In fact, ever since Dr FahmidaMirzahave taken over the charge of the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination that looks after the PSB, there have been no proper training camps for our athletes.”

Inambecame the first Pakistani to win the World Beach Wrestling Championship twice in 2017 and 2019 and also became the first one from the country to qualify for the World Beach Games and win the gold medal too in the event in 2019, a feat that was never achieved by any Pakistani before. Inam had to arrange the funds for competing in the events on his own, but throughout that time he had remained optimistic about grabbing the world title in the beach wrestling.

He has also got Pakistan gold medals in Commonwealth Games twice, Asian Beach Games and South Asian Games, and now he is looking to book a spot in the Olympics is.

But wrestling on mat is different.

“It is concerning for us because the Olympic qualifiers are on mat and we have traditional wrestling that takes place on the mud. We don’t have facilities with good mats anywhere. Since there had been no camps and there had been restrictions because of Covid-19, all the wrestlers trained on their own.”

This will also be the first event for the Pakistani wrestlers since 2019South Asian Games. But it is also crucial to have results as it is the penultimate Olympic qualifying round, after this there would only be the world qualifiers in Bulgaria in May.

“I just want to say that the government should have done more for Inam. I am very worried about him because it is very important for him to represent Pakistan. He is very patriotic and has done so much. Even for this event, the federation gathered enough money to send the squad so that they don’t miss an opportunity. It is a complete self-help effort, no funds from the government, and I just want to hope that they qualify and Inam gets his time and chance.

“He is at his peak right now. He is 32,he is young, but experienced. No one knows if he’ll stay as fit for the next Olympics, so he has Tokyo Olympics as his best shot. But the fact remains that we have had such limited resources compared to other countries and our athletes have trained on their own. With so much dedication, so all we are looking or is that spot in the Games, just that,” said Sattar.

The Asian Wrestling Championship will be featuring more than 200 athletes from 24 countries all looking for a place in the Tokyo Olympics over the three days from April 9 till 11.

The top two wrestlers from each weight category will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics while the ones who fall short will get a chance to compete in Bulgaria.

Sattar said that the same three wrestlers have been booked for the event in Bulgaria too, if they do not qualify in Almaty.

The wrestlers are accompanied by Pakistan’s only international qualified coach Ghulam Fareed.

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