KARACHI: Upon confirmation of the country’s participation in the Winter Olympics at Sochi, the Ski Federation of Pakistan (SFP) affirmed that teenager Muhammad Karim will represent Pakistan this week.
Karim, who grew up skiing in Naltar, qualified for Sochi with a 132.40-point finish in the International Ski Federation races.
Despite starting the season as an under-dog, the 18-year-old became the only Pakistan skier to fulfill the condition of having less than 140 points to enter the Winter Olympics.
Karim will aim at winning the giant slalom competition which is also his favourite discipline in Alpine skiing.
“It’s a great opportunity for me as I have always dreamed of becoming an Olympian,” Karim told The Express Tribune. “It’s an honour and also a responsibility for me since the giant slalom event is my specialty. “I am well-prepared though. The international exposure I received in the Turkey and Iran races will be of great help.”
It runs in the family: Karim
Karim comes from a skiing family, where his four elder brothers were also skiers at the national level.
He revealed that he had begun skiing at the age of six and then joined the Naltar Ski School, which is run by the Pakistan Air Force.
“Joining the school gave me the opportunity to take up skiing professionally” he said. “My first training tour was in 2006 in Japan and I’ve never looked back since.
“I ended up competing in the 2007 Asian Winter Games where I finished fifth and then bagged a bronze medal in Lebanon during the 2009 Asian Winter Games.” Karim received his training in Austria as well in October last year where he polished his skills among skiers from 14 different countries.
However, he said that skiing requires grit and ample physical strength.
“Even a single injury can finish an athlete’s career,” said Karim. “My brother suffered an ankle injury and he couldn’t ski the same way again. One needs to be very careful as well as fast while competing.
“It’s all about maintaining balance between speed and control in extreme weather conditions. Skiing needs a lot of hard work and determination.”
Karim explained that he trains four hours a day in two sessions besides spending an hour in the gym in order to remain speedy on the track.
All sorted, says SFP
According to SFP Secretary Mussarat Ali, Karim will be a part of a four-member squad that will leave for Sochi on February 4.
“We thank the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Government of Pakistan for supporting us,” said Ali. Everything is sorted between the IOC and the Pakistan Olympic Association.”
He further added that while Karim will be the sole skier, Olympian Muhammad Abbas will be the reserve athlete for Pakistan. “We’ve kept Abbas as our back up skier in case Karim gets injured; he has the second best points average.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2014.