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Pakistan javelin-thrower sharpens hopes of uncommon Olympic medal

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LAHORE: Arshad Nadeem as soon as dreamed of turning into a star cricketer, however after switching to athletics he has the chance to seize Pakistan’s first particular person Olympic medal in additional than 30 years.

“Right now there is a chance for me,” Nadeem informed AFP as he ready for subsequent month’s Covid-delayed Tokyo Video games.

“If I throw my best then, God willing, I will win a medal.”

Since its first Olympics in London in 1948, Pakistan have gained three gold, three silver and two bronze medals in subject hockey.

The bronzes gained by wrestler Mohammad Bashir in Rome in 1960 and boxer Hussain Shah in Seoul in 1988 are Pakistan’s solely particular person Olympic medals.

However forward of subsequent month’s video games, Nadeem has the world’s sixth-best javelin throw of the yr — a private finest 86.38 metres achieved in April in Iran, the place he was pressured to journey in an effort to search top-flight competitors.

The strapping 24-year-old, who ditched cricket for athletics as a youngster, will face more durable opponents in Tokyo, however he mentioned he will not be fazed.

“I don’t look at any of the other javelin throwers… I don’t focus on them,” he mentioned after a coaching session in Lahore.

“I focus on myself and how I throw and I try my best — and that is how God honours me.”

– Household first –

Nadeem already has a style for gold, having stood atop the rostrum eventually yr’s South Asian Video games in Nepal.

He took bronze on the 2018 Commonwealth Video games behind gold-winner Neeraj Chopra of India, the farmer’s son who has thrown the third-longest distance this yr.

It hasn’t been a simple path for the 1.87 metre-tall (six toes two inches) Nadeem, who comes from a village in a wheat and cotton-producing space of Punjab.

With little children put to work early, he had little time for his old flame, cricket, and services and correct coaching had been scarce.

Regardless of the difficulties, Nadeem shone as an all-rounder. “I was good,” he mentioned.

“There was a chance for me to be part of the national team, but conditions were such that I couldn’t do it.”

On the recommendation of a brother, Nadeem turned to athletics — which took much less time than days-long cricket matches — making an attempt his hand at a wide range of occasions.

“There was shot put, javelin, discus, hammer, long jump, high jump and triple jump,” he mentioned.

“I even ran in the 100 metres, 200 metres and relay — and thankfully I won about seven to nine events at divisional level.”

Nadeem’s massive break got here in 2015 when he was taken on by Pakistan’s water and energy board, a authorities authority with a modest funds for nurturing sports activities expertise.

There he was taken beneath the wing of coach Fayaz Hussain Bukhari.

“He threw well so we gave him a job,” mentioned Bukhari, who has been Nadeem’s coach ever since.

– ‘Good learner’ –

Nonetheless, sacrifices needed to be made in an effort to produce a world-class athlete — not least in getting the correct food regimen.

“Yes, food is a big problem… But that is something that needs to be dealt with as part of life,” he mentioned.

Bukhari mentioned getting Nadeem in the correct situation for the Video games had been troublesome in the course of the pandemic.

“Training is the real challenge. He sat at home for a year because of corona,” mentioned the coach.

“All the gyms and stadiums were closed. I had to work him hard to bring him to a point where he could compete and win again.”

Bukhari, who’s paid simply 15,000 rupees a month (round $100) to take care of his cost, mentioned Nadeem was an ideal scholar.

“He trains well and is a good learner,” he mentioned, including: “We are going to do our best, and the rest is in God’s hands.”

Regardless of the lead to Tokyo, Nadeem is aware of he can rely on the assist from his household and neighbours.

“We have a small village which has become famous not just in all of Pakistan but the entire world because of Arshad Nadeem,” he mentioned.

“They are very happy.”

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