As the world gears up for the 2012 London Olympics, the newly re-elected President of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) has a bleak picture to paint for sport fans in the country.
Thus far, only the hockey team has sealed a berth in the games and with the rest of the Pakistan contingent struggling to qualify for the event the chief of the POA is justified in his assessment.
“Only the hockey team has sealed its berth, our athletes and boxers have failed to impress in the qualifiers and by the end of next month we will have a clear picture of how many actually qualified. At this juncture we are only relying on wild card entries which means there is almost no hope of a medal,” POA chief Arif Hasan said in an exclusive interview with Dawn News.
Besides hockey, only boxing has remained a realistic hope of a medal for Pakistan over the years, yet no pugilist has so far qualified for the games which start in July.
According to Hasan, Pakistan finds itself in this situation not because of a lack of talent but due to the lack of infrastructure which eventually runs to ground even the most promising athletes.
“I feel there is talent in the country, but the question remains what are we to do with the talent? Unless there is proper coaching and guidance and foreign exposure, we simply cannot compete in major competitions.”
Hasan clarified that contrary to popular belief, the Olympic Association only facilitated the participation of athletes who had sealed their berths at the Olympics. According to him, the POA did not have the resources to organize training camps which was at the sole discretion of the federation of the respective sport.
“We have a meagre budget. Most of it is consumed in administrative tasks. There is hardly any money left for the promotion of sports and we lag behind even in the region. India, for example, spends millions more for various sports besides the mainstream ones,” Hasan stated.
He added that concrete steps had to be taken immediately for Pakistan to harbour hopes of an improved show in the 2016 Olympics which will take place in Brazil.
Hasan said the likes of Asian Karate Champion Saadi Abbas had it in them to excel at the global level, but proper coaching and development under the supervision of experts was a dire need.
It is pertinent to mention here that in 65 years of its existence, Pakistan has managed only two individual medals at the Olympics.
Even hockey, traditionally the strongest suit for Pakistan, last brought a medal way back in 1992.
Given the decline in the standard of the national sport in the country, no heroics are expected from the green shirts this time around either.
The POA chief feels that only the prayers of the nation can turn the tables in London.