LAHORE: Wapda changed history as they emerged victorious in the 32nd National Games, winning the Quaid-i-Azam trophy here on Friday.
The winners grabbed 190 gold, 83 silver and 46 bronze medals.
Pakistan Army have been winning the main trophy since the inception of the national gala in 1948, but this time it staged a boycott, without making any formal announcement, giving an open field to Wapda who have been the runners-up of the games for many times, to finally claim the prestigious trophy.
The torrential rain in Lahore and Army’s decision of not handing over the actual trophy to the organisers of the games due to their boycott ended the games at a dismal note.
No formal closing ceremony could be held due to rain while a new trophy was presented to Wapda in a simple ceremony at the Railways Stadium.
The next host of the Games will be decided in the next general council meeting of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) in February.
Sindh, Balochistan, KP and Islamabad are all candidates to host the games.
POA president Lt Gen Arif Hasan, who was the chief guest, handed over the main trophy to Wapda’s member water Husnain Afzal.
While Wapda aggregated 6,230 points, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) showed remarkable performance, seizing the second position with 29 gold, 62 silver and 74 bronze medals for 2,935 points.
HEC’s performance is a positive sign that sports are being promoted at the varsity level.
Punjab were third with 22 gold, 33 silver and 56 bronze medals with 2,732 points.
Sindh grabbed the fourth spot with 24 gold, 29 silver and 32 bronze medals to make 1,638 points.
Police with four gold, 13 silver and 26 bronze remained fifth as they accumulated 1,335 points.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa earned the sixth place with two gold, 15 silver and 26 bronze medals, giving them 1,211 points.
Wapda showed their complete supremacy in athletics with 17 gold medals in the men’s category and 15 in women’s.
Wapda also excelled in bodybuilding (eight gold and two silver medals), boxing (seven golds), cycling (seven golds in men’s and nine in women’s categories) and swimming (nine golds in men’s and five in women’s categories).
On the last day, Wapda stamped their authority in karate too, winning 16 gold medals.
They also won the finals of both men’s and women’s squash, defeating Punjab in both the events.
Member International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Pakistan Shahid Ali, Aqil Shah, Khalid Mahmood, Wapda’s member water Husnain Afzal, Wapda Sports Board president Mian Riffat Ali Mahmood, M. Zafar, Ahmad Ali Rajput, Zulfiqar Butt, Afzal Awan, Waqar Ali, Khurram Haroon and others were present at the closing ceremony.
Games’ organising secretary Idrees Haider Khawaja handed over the National Games’ flag to POA president Arif Hassan and another POA official Khalid Mahmood.
Speaking on the occasion, Shahid Ali said: “The 32nd National Games were held well in time and I congratulate all the participating athletes for assisting the Punjab Olympic Association (PbOA) in holding the Games in befitting manner.
“I also congratulate the champions Wapda for winning the main trophy,” he said.
Arif Hasan also congratulated Wapda, HEC and Punjab on winning the first three positions.
He also lauded the efforts of athletes and their officials for reaching Lahore, defying all the odds.
“I am grateful to the PbOA who staged the Games successfully and in a well-organised manner,” the POA chief said.
Idrees Khawaja said: “I am thankful to the Almighty for helping us in holding the Games well in time.”
Meanwhile, the POA issued a press release expressing its dismay over the decision of the Pakistan Army of not returning the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy to the POA.
“To the POA’s utter dismay, the National Games winners (Wapda) have been deprived of the most honoured, prestigious and historic silverware, the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, (by the Army).
Army’s sports directorate refused to return the trophy to the POA, saying it was a government property and that if the POA wanted it back, it should approach the government.
The press release further says, “The shield which has been presented to every winner since the 1948 National Games was donated by the Quaid during the first National Games and that too from his personal purse and not the government of Pakistan’s funds.
“To this day, the tradition was followed in letter and spirit, with the previous winner returning it to the organisers to be presented to the new winners.
“But this time round, Wapda, the deserving winners of the 2012 Games, shall not be able to flaunt it. Our pleas fell on deaf ears. Our reminders of what Fairplay — the very essence of sport — demanded were stubbornly not heeded to,” the press release added.