Pakistan’s only athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics directly, javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem, will be finally competing internationally after the 2019 South Asian Games, where he hit the qualifying standard and made the country proud.
The 24-year-old from Khanewal, Mian Chunnu is raring to take part in the Tokyo Olympics that are just three months away to start on July 23, with Arshad finding himself in the historical Iranian city of Mashhad.
He will begin his campaign at the International Athletic Imam Reza Cup Tournament, a category D event in the World Athletics rankings.
Arshad will be making sure he gives his best after a very long break from international circuit.
“I am feeling great, this is going to be the first event after Nepal,” Arshad told The Express Tribune from Mashhad.
“The whole feeling of being on my way to Olympics is great. I am on the right track, the training has been great too, as I was in Lahore with my coach, but I didn’t know that I was going to be competing in Iran, so this was a surprise, but I’ll take it. I had no idea that I will be here, but I knew I had to train hard.
“Although this is out of the blue, I am very competitive, and I am sure I’ll give my all in this event too. It is all looking good so far. The conditions are not the same as Pakistan, but it is all good.”
Arshad took everyone by surprise when he marked 86.29m in Nepal at the SAG which was not only the games record but also surpassed the javelin throw entry distance required for the Tokyo Olympics qualification in 85m for men. Consequently, Arshad was sent to China by the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP), where he witnessed the spread of Covid-19. It all caused Arshad to return home in February 2020 before the International Olympic Committee announced the postponement of the Games in March.
Iran tournament is a stop just before more intense training for Arshad in Turkey, where he will meet his trainer from Kazakhstan.
“I have been focusing on the Olympics and the training. Despite the whole postponements, I have kept my spirits high and trained very hard. I was training in Lahore for months now, before that even at home in Mian Chunnu. So I am very eager for top performance in Olympics. And this event is just something I am taking as a way to improve even further. My coach Fiaz Bokhari is with me, and then there is another coach from Kazkhstan, he had been training me online for some time now, we’ve had few sessions, and he helped me with some techniques,” said Arshad.
The 1987 World Championship silver medallist Viktor Yevsyukov has been training Arshad online, because the Pakistani athlete could not travel to Kazakhstan due to the coronavirus-enforced travel limitations. Yevsyukov’s own best record has been 93.70m in the old model and 85.16m in the new model of measurements.
Arshad initially wanted to go to Germany or Finland for training for the Olympics but the restrictions after Covid-19 stalled his dreams of going to these two countries.