KARACHI: For 23-year-old Kiran Khan, the failure to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics has not stopped her from striving to prove her doubters wrong.
Setting a national record by winning 15 gold medals at the swimming championships of the ongoing National Games in Islamabad was a battle for the swimmer to prove she is amongst the great athletes Pakistan has produced.
The Lahore-based swimmer’s tally – breaking her own previous best of 13 gold medals at the Games – was just her way of showcasing her skills.
Kiran said that despite her consistent performances in the pool, the Pakistan Swimming Federation has somehow always managed to snub her when it comes to international events. However, her record-breaking feat has given her more confidence in her skills and at 23 years of age, she says she is at her best.
“I’m just excited that all of my hard work paid off,” Khan told The Express Tribune. “A year ago I was struggling, there was also a time when I couldn’t even achieve my personal best timing, but I still trained. When I was in the US for my studies, I swam for myself, improved on my own, and bounced back,” Kiran said.
“I’ve made a comeback and I created history by winning 15 gold medals, which is another national record. However, I do feel that the participation in international events is the key and the next step for me,” she explained.
She managed to break the national record in the 50-metre freestyle event this year with a time of 28.98 seconds, breaking Rubab Raza’s previous mark of 29.01 seconds.
“This was my fifth participation in the National Games. I began my career in 2001 and I’ve broken all the records. Even today, I know new swimmers are coming and they are very fresh, ready and fast, but my competition is against the time,” Kiran claimed.
“I’m not competing against any other swimmer, when I’m in the pool it is me against the clock. I just have to beat the time and that is my motivation. I know I have to push myself and beat my own personal best time. This time around at the National Games too, I just wanted to prove that I can still win gold medals and break records.”
But despite regularly training in the pool, according to Kiran, her latest disappointment has been another snub from the PSF this month, when the national swimming body sent another swimmer to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Incheon, South Korea.
She added, “I am an excellent short course swimmer and I could have done really well in Korea. It does affect me that I cannot participate in the international FINA (International Swimming Federation) events without the approval from the Pakistan Olympic Association or Pakistan Sports Board.”
However, she is optimistic her hard work will be noticed. She said the PSF has not contacted her for the upcoming FINA Championship in Barcelona or in Dubai that will begin from July 20 and continue till August.
But the highlight for her this year will be the South Asian Games, where she will be competing Indian athletes, that is, if she is chosen by the swimming federation.
“I really want to compete at the South Asian Games, because competing against the Indians is always exciting. Secondly, I really need to participate in this competition just to gauge my own skill and how much I need to improve. I hope the PSF will send me to the SAG this year, I know I can win gold medals against Indian swimmers too,” Kiran concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ