ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s weightlifting squad is confident of shining at the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) and remains optimistic about grabbing medals in New Delhi despite little support from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).
The coach Rashid Mehmood, who is also the six-man team’s manager, has targeted at least four medals in the event scheduled to start from October 3.
“We’re aiming to win a minimum of four medals and are confident that it will be the country’s best performance in the Games’ history,” Mehmood told The Express Tribune at the training camp in Islamabad.
The last edition of the Games – Melbourne 2006 – was the best for Pakistan in the sport where it secured a gold by Shujauddin Malik and a silver from Mohammad Irfan. Prior to Melbourne, Pakistan’s only success in the disciple came in 1972 when Abdul Ghafoor bagged a silver medal.
“The performance in Melbourne gave us the boost and confidence that we can do well,” said the former national champion before adding that the team was expecting tough competition from India, Canada, Australia and England.
‘No support from the PSB’
Mehmood, however, did rue the lack of support given to the athletes from the government and the PSB, adding that the weightlifters were not even provided proper weightlifting shoes and had to buy their own pairs that cost them Rs25,000 each.
“Our weightlifters trained with ordinary shoes for weeks as the PSB refused to provide proper shoes. They were lucky to have avoided a career-threatening injury without them. We have the passion but there should be some support from the government especially for those who’ll provide good results for the country.
“The team has also not been sent abroad for tournaments and that lack of exposure may affect out performance at the Commonwealth Games.”
Malik eyes another gold
Being Pakistan’s only weightlifter to win a gold medal in the Games’ history, Malik is hoping to emulate his earlier performance in India.
“I’m confident of defending my title in New Delhi for which I have been working extensively for months,” said the Gujranwala-born athlete who was awarded a Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) for his Melbourne feat. “However, I was just given a cash award when I won gold at the South-Asian Games. I did not get any incentive for winning at the CWG which is a de-motivating factor.
“It hurts to see other athletes showered with praise and bounties for little achievements while we remain unrecognised.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2010.