Khan wants females to pick up shooting

NRAP secretary believes women can bring more accolades for Pakistan if trained well


Natasha Raheel August 14, 2021

KARACHI:

“Women do better at shooting then men and that is something we want to concentrate on for the future,” the National Rifle Association of Pakistan secretary Razi Ahmed Khan says while talking about 2024 Olympics, and why a woman was not a part of the squad in the recently concluded Games.

This was the first time that three Pakistani shooters directly qualified for the Olympics, but their presence remains under the shadow mostly because the NRAP feels that the key for the athletes was to concentrate on the performance. But Khan said that the focus needs to be on the future.

“We want women shooters to be present and there are many who are aspiring to do well for Pakistan. We have some promising talent in Karachi,” Khan told The Express Tribune. “I feel that women can be better at shooting and in the next Olympics we want women to be a part of the squad, just like we sent one female shooter at the 2016 Olympics. The key is to groom the talent.

“This time at the Olympics, although Ghulam Mustafa Bashir was in the top six, he did not have the mental strength to carry it through, because it is extremely competitive on this level.”

Khan has coached Bashir, who was making his second appearance at the Olympics, while Muhammad Khalil Akhtar and youngster Gulfam Joseph also made an impact by directly qualifying for the Olympics.

Out of the three shooters, Bashir finished on the sixth place in the 25m rapid fire pistol event, while Khalil was on the 16th spot at the end of the first qualification round. In the second round, they were on the 10th and 15th places respectively; whereas, top six shooters went on to compete for the medals in the final.

But before the seniors performed, it was the 21-year-old Joseph who was a silent surprise. The youngster missed out on the place in the final by a spot, finishing on the ninth position in 10m air pistol event behind Serbia’s Damir Mikec. Mikec went on to grab the silver medal at the event.

Work for 2024 Olympics begins

Khan said that the shooters’ profile was kept low-key so that they do not get distracted. However, with the 2020 Olympics wrapped up, the aim is to have more shooters ready for the next edition. He added that the work starts this month with the National Championship, which starts on August 24 in Lahore and in Jhelum.

The shotgun events will be at Lahore Garrison shooting ranges from August 24 to 29 with three individual and three team events, whereas, rifle pistol events will be in Jhelum shooting ranges from August 30 to September 4 featuring athletes in 13 individual and 13 team events.

The NRAP will also hold four junior events to identify the upcoming talent, along with one pistol event, which will be held only for the new comers and no national player will take part in it. One additional festival big bore pistol event will allow participation for all.

“We are organising the National Championship and this is the first step to see the talent that we can further groom,” said Khan. “We have started to move in a direction that will help us prepare the athletes in the next two years. We have started to work for the Paris Olympics right away, because in order to have the shooters ready for the qualification, we need them to get started as quickly as possible.”

The National Championship will also be treated as the first trial for Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Thailand Open and World Championships.

Khan said that female shooters are a part of the plan and he is hopeful for the participants to prove this point further. In the 2016 Olympics, the NRAP sent Minhal Sohail, who became the first woman shooter to represent the country at the Games. She was sent on a tripartite commission invitation place.

“With the national championships we want to see more women,” said Khan, while acknowledging that there are challenges for women more than men.

“The women obviously have to overcome more obstacles, even as basic as being physically strong and healthy. That is the first challenge and then we need to get them to shooting. The ones that we have seen so far, we are working on them and they can get Pakistan forward. Shooting is not a sport that requires a lot of physical strength in a traditional way, it is a lot to do with a strong mind and women can excel in this very quickly. We just need to make it accessible to them,” said Khan.

He added that there is also a dearth of shooting coaches in the country.

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