KARACHI: Receiving the Pride of Performance Award during one’s playing days is akin to a dream come true, according to recipient Aqeel Khan.
Pakistan’s top-ranked tennis player Aqeel has been the strength for the national team throughout his career, which spans over two decades. He has played the most Davis Cup ties (43) for Pakistan, and on Tuesday night, he said he felt that his hard work has finally received recognised.
“I had always heard about the March 23 ceremonies, but this was the first time I attended it,” Aqeel told The Express Tribune. “When my name was announced at the Governor house, I went up to take the shield and that was the moment I realised what a huge honour it is.”
The 35-year-old said he was the youngest sportsperson to receive the award at the ceremony, with the other recipients being two former hockey players from Sindh. “Most players receive this award either posthumously or after they retire, I’m happy that I got it while I’m still playing,” he said.
Aqeel said he has seen many ups and downs during his tennis career and struggled to make a living from a relatively unpopular sport in the country. “There are good times as well as bad patches, but the Almighty saw me through and moral support from my friends and family helped a lot,” he said.
According to Pakistan Tennis Federaton (PTF) secretary Khalid Rehmani, Aqeel’s award will also motivate the upcoming players in the national circuit. “We are all very happy, because Aqeel really deserved the award,” said Rehmani.
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