If one were to hastily sum up Pakistan’s performance at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the term below par would be used. The country finished 23rd out of 71 nations that took part in the twentieth edition of the event, bagging three silver and a solitary bronze medal to justify the label. The build-up to the Games was so chaotic and badly planned that one should pat the athletes on the back just for making it to Glasgow. Before the event, the sheer disorganised nature of the athletes’ preparation, coupled with uncertainty regarding their participation in the Games, dented any confidence that the Pakistan contingent could have built up through their preparations. The continuing misfortunes of the Pakistan Olympic Association proved to be another major obstacle.
They say sport is not just a hobby, but a way of life — it is not just physical exercise, but a test of character and expression. But how can one really express themselves freely when there is uncertainty over even getting an air ticket to the Games and all one can do is follow the news to see if the athletes will be making it to Glasgow. The Pakistan hockey team — playing the country’s national sport — did not get a chance to feature at the Games. The wrestlers did and won two medals. In addition, the judo and boxing events also saw Pakistan’s name in the list of medal winners. The sports board has admitted that there were not too many medal hopes to begin with. And the medal count — as low as it was — was not surprising either.
The players alone cannot be blamed for this. Even with the right tools at their disposal, there is still a massive gap between Pakistan and countries like England, Australia or even India, when it comes to basic sports infrastructure. It would take years of hard work, dedication and judicious allocation of resources to come close to their level. But when you have officials at the helm who do not even care about the country’s participation at major events, let alone the sports infrastructure in the country, then there is not much the players can do either. So, all we can do is sit back and critique the show.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2014.
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