KARACHI: The 2011 South Asian Winter Games skiing medalists Aminah Wali and Ifrah Wali fear that lack of international participation may hinder their chances of qualifying for the Winter Olympics 2014 that will take place in Russia.
The sisters, who won gold and silver medals in the South Asian Winter Games two years ago in India, feel that it is high time for the federation to send female athletes abroad for competing in challenging events.
Aminah, the recently crowned women skiing champion at the national championship, feels the skiers need a programme from the Ski Federation of Pakistan (SFP) in order to earn at least 140 points to qualify for the Winter Olympics next year.
“We need more events to fulfill the criteria for the Winter Olympics.” Aminah told The Express Tribune. “Ifrah and I haven’t received any programme or plan from the federation for any sporting events this year that can help us earn the required points. We are pleased with our performance in the national championship but that’s not our main goal. We wish to do more for the country and the sport because we know we have the talent to win medals. We’re looking for support on the federation’s part.”
Meanwhile, Ifrah said she personally feels that the male skiers may still get a chance to participate in the international events this year but the women might not be considered for the tours due to funding issues.
“I’ve heard the male athletes have international events lined up, but nothing for us so far. It’s disappointing and disheartening because without the points we have no chance at the Winter Olympics.”
Meanwhile, the SFP said there will be no discrimination between women and men when it comes to sending the entries for the Winter Olympics. They added that none of the Pakistani skiers – male or female – have enough ranking points currently to make a cut for the grand event.
“There is an entire year and there will be more developments,” said an SFP official. “We are supporting the skiers but if none of them is in the top 500 list of the international skiing federation then they will be sent on the country-quota basis. Moreover, we can’t send an all-men’s or all-women’s team; there has to be one woman and one man provided they have 140 points.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2013.
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