With just a week to the departure of Pakistan’s athletes for London, 800m runner Rabiya Ashiq has decided to dedicate her Olympics’ run to her late friend Mubeen Akhtar.
Mubeen, who narrowly missed out on the best female athlete award in the 44th Athletics Championship earlier this year, died in May under suspicious circumstances. Rabiya said that she wanted to share the biggest moment of her life with two people – her coach Bushra Parveen and ‘good friend’ Akhtar.
“There is extra motivation for me to do well in London because I want to dedicate my run at the Olympics to Mubeen,” Rabiya told The Express Tribune. “I became good friends with her during her last days and we used to take joy in each others’ victories. She was especially excited about my participation in the Olympics and used to encourage me saying that I shouldn’t get nervous thinking of the Games and that I’ll make Pakistan proud.”
The 20-year-old said that her friend had even predicted that she will be a gold medallist in the upcoming SAF Games scheduled to be held in India. Rabiya added that she is eyeing the semi-finals but admitted that realistically she would be happy even with her participation in the event.
‘No support from the corporate sector’
Meanwhile, she insisted that the corporate sector of Pakistan should support national athletes who are participating in the biggest games of all.
“It feels that people of Pakistan are not happy with our participation because we haven’t received any sponsorship whatsoever. It is really depressing for an athlete to see that he or she is not getting any support despite being the country’s representative at the Olympics.”
Rabiya said that athletes of other countries are facilitated by wealthy sponsors which gives them added impetus to do even better than they had originally planned. She also suggested that the participating Pakistani athletes should have been sent abroad for training with international athletes for at least a month-long camp.
“Training with world-class athletes helps you learn new things and modify your technique. But sadly we were not sent abroad to places like Jamaica, China or even Sri Lanka.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2012.