KARACHI: Pakistan runner Rabia Ashiq will be motivated by the memory of a dead friend and colleague when she appears as one of her nation's two female athletes at the London Olympics.
The 20-year-old, who competes in the 800 metre heats on August 8, fondly remembers Mubeen Akhtar – one of the country's top sprinters who died in June.
“I am not a medal contender I know that but I want to dedicate my Olympic appearance to Mubeen who was a close friend and who always wished to compete in the Games,” Rabia told reporters.
Mubeen, Pakistan's fastest female sprinter in the national championships this year where she won the 100 and 200 metre, died after a freak accident at her home.
Her family said she tripped down the stairs and sustained serious head injuries and died later in hospital after being put on a ventilator.
“She was overjoyed when I got a wildcard entry for the Olympics,” Rabia recalled.
“Mubeen is the motivation for me to try to do well in my event. I want to make her, my coach Bushra Parveen and my country proud of me.”
In a country known for its conservative values, female athletes rarely get opportunities to compete at international level.
Apart from the successful men's hockey team who have won three gold medals, three silver and two bronze, Pakistan have won only two bronze medals in the Olympics.