KARACHI: Anam Banday has taken her Olympics heartbreak in her stride, preparing herself for the next edition already and looking forward to putting in 30 hours of pool time and 10 hours of gym every week.
Anam, a wild-card entrant, failed to progress past her 400m IM heat on Saturday, ending last among 35 starters but did manage to improve her national record by over two seconds. However, now she hopes to qualify for Rio 2016 instead of relying on a wild-card.
“I’m happy with my performance because I was able to improve and now my target is to qualify for the next Olympics,” Anam told The Express Tribune. “Finishing last doesn’t really bother me because I was doing my own race. The experience here was scary and amazing at the same time. I always knew that I had a slim chance of qualifying for the next round but, to be honest, this result has only motivated me to do better. I still need to work very hard in order to compete with international swimmers but my immediate plan is to break more records in Pakistan.”
Banday, who has been swimming since she was four, was born and brought up in London, training in Islamabad for three years and began participating in domestic events before being selected for the Olympics qualifiers.
“My experience in Pakistan has been great and getting the wild-card was simply overwhelming. It just gave me more confidence that I can be an international athlete. I will be training in London because I am with a club here, the facilities are better and the coaches are more experienced.”
Meanwhile, fellow swimmer Israr Hussain, who will be competing in the 100m freestyle event, is not too confident about his results and despite the low expectations, he wants to do more than just improve his national record.
“Taking part in the Olympics was a dream that has come true but as the race draws closer, I’m getting more and more nervous and I don’t want to waste the opportunity now,” said the 26-year-old. “I want to get past the first heat. I can’t wait for another four years like Anam. She’s young, I’m not.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.