When Rabia Ashiq crossed the finish line almost 17 seconds after the 800m heat winner, it gave Pakistan’s sports authorities a moment to reflect upon reality.
There are no medals for effort — our swimmers, shooter, athletes and the hockey team displayed plenty of that — but the gulf between Pakistan and the competition it took on in London was massive and worrying. A post-mortem may not take place but calls for resignations in the hockey team and the federation were swift following the seventh place finish — an improvement of one place from Beijing 2008. The contingent’s chef-de-mission called for a cut in hockey spending and a greater share for other sports.
Interest and passion notwithstanding, sports, despite its widespread following in Pakistan, needs heavy investment at the grass-roots level. But most of our schools, colleges and universities do not have enough space for classrooms, let alone fields and equipment. With the added burden of academic expectations, the majority does not have time to spend on polishing its sporting skills. The few who do follow their hearts, are often laid low due to the omnipresent financial restrictions.
Great Britain has broken its gold count record in modern-era Olympics and stands third in the table — from a single gold in Atlanta 1996 to 25 in London so far. Their World Class Performance Programme, financed in part by the National Lottery, has played its role with athletes receiving support of up to £55,000 (Rs8 million) per annum, at the development stage, in addition to a personal award that contributes towards living and personal sporting costs. While Pakistani authorities will not be able to match that, an investment and training programme, similar to what the cricket board has, will be the right launching pad. Investing in the athletes is a basic requirement as talent may bag medals at national and regional levels but without adequate nourishing, it simply labels you as mere participants at global events.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ
Someone prayed for inclusion of cricket in Olympics to boost Pakistan's chance of bagging a medal in next olympics. It would be interesting to note that we recently lost to Srilanka and some of our players have served sentences in Jail and faced bans from cricket for match fixing.We are not exactly estting the pitches on fire.
@Hassan: You say that "Countries like Canada...despite facilities have done nothings".(In the Olympics)! Wow, just an internet search away is the following: 2012 London Games, Canada wins 1 Gold, 5 Silver, 12 Bronze medals for a total of 18! 2010 Vancouver Games, Canada wins 14 Gold, 7 Silver, 5 Bronze medals for total of 26! PLEASE give us your definition of "nothings" AGAIN!
Makes me sad that India is doing better. They have won 5 medals, and may win one more today. We have 0 medals since last 4 Olympics.
Need to get Olympians that actually meet the standard and not get wild card entries. I thought Pakistan are supposed to be good at volleyball?
What about horse riding?? We can at least do that if our athletes aren't very fit and strong. Afghanistan got a freaking silver and this amazing nation of 180 million couldn't get one medal.
Also the male swimmer from Pakistan had timings more than the last swimmer in women's race. Is this our standard? that our athlete come last not only in men but also in women.
Lack of facilities???? Ethopia, Jamica, Kenya and many third world countries much poorer and less inhabitant than us have won so many medals. Countries like Canada, South Africa despite facilities have done nothings.
Focus by authorities on Talent acquisition, training, grooming and fitness of players is important to win medals
So what if they failed miserably, still they all got a free trip/vacation.
London Olympics 2012 for a nation of 180 million people comes to an end without even a single medal and presence on medal tally. Now 99% of Pakis will say because we are lacking facilities as they are used to blame systems and governments, for this. Are facilities better in countries like Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya who got medals for them. NO, thay won medals because they got talent. Now who says Pakistan has got enormous potential?? I mean seriously?? Simply we are laziest and Debauchee gathering of 180 million on this planet.
lets pray we'll have a cricket event in the next Olympics.
not happening. sport is a symbol of civilisation. the kind of "sport" the uncivilised play are marching their women naked, converting girls, kidnaping and killing nationalists and so on. there are many events to participate in.
@numbersnumbers: Finally a sane voice who is talking about planning and not making excuse of being poor.
Its all cricket's fault.
Should have allowed Haroon Khan (brother of Amir Khan, who won the silver medal in boxing aged 17 for GB in Athens) to fight for PK like he did in the commonwealth games. Back then he got a bronze for Pakistan, and actually defeated team GB's Andrew Selby (who was entered into this years olympics for GB). I think he could have bagged PK a medal.
Sheer incompetence on the part of Pakistans Olympic selection team.
Please dont give me the "hes a brit not a pakistani", because you've got a shedload of Africans competing for the likes of Qatar, and Bahrain. This guy is actually of Pakistani origin.
Please look at the full list of Olympic events to see that possibilities are endless. The equipment and training area requirements for all the event sports varies considerably, from sailing a Star class boat in racing ( you need a modern boat, support crews, and budget to travel around the region for sailing competitions) to the Javelin toss (you need a Javelin and some clothes and shoes)! Please pick out a list of POSSIBLE sports ( at least 10 ) and start a national development program to nurture talent in those events.