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ISLAMABAD: Liaquat Ali smashed the national 200m record in sensational style on Sunday to help Pakistan Army retain their men’s title while Wapda completed a successful defence of their women’s crown at the 46th National Athletics Championships.

Liaquat completed the race in 20.65 seconds here at Jinnah Sta­di­um of Pakistan Sports Complex, shaving 0.15 seconds off the previous record which was incidentally held by his coach Masood Ahmed.

“I’m extremely happy to break the record of my coach… and of course for this achievement, credit goes to him as well,” Liaquat, who featured at 2012 London Olympics, told Dawn.

His feat saw the number of national records at the championships rise to two following his fellow Army team-mate Sidra Bashir’s 3.07m jump in the women’s pole vault event on the opening day of the three-day event.

Liaquat’s gold inflated Army’s tally to 13 in men’s events along with 14 silver medals and five bronze. They finished on 389 points with Wapda’s tally of eight golds, five silvers and ten bronze seeing them finish runners-up on 257 points.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) finished a distant third with 84 points after managing a solitary gold, two silvers and one bronze medal.

Wapda were dominant once again in the women’s category, racking up 395 points by virtue of 17 golds, 10 silvers and four bronze to finish well ahead of Higher Education Commission (HEC) who ended on 155 points despite not winning a single gold medal.

They managed to win seven silver medals along with nine bronze with Army taking third spot after ending on 126 points with three golds, a silver and seven bronze.

Although there was no overall winner at the championships, with competitions held in separate categories, Wapda’s athletes held sway with top-notch performances. Their aggregate of 652 points would’ve seen them finish well ahead of Army (515) in the overall standings.

However, Director Army Sports directorate Brigadier Ghulam Jilani, who was present for the closing ceremony, expressed satisfaction over the performance of his athletes.

“We were brilliant in the men’s category with a medal winner in each event,” he told Dawn, adding that “the medal winners will be awarded with cash prizes while they will also get promotions as per rules”.

Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) president Maj Gen (R) Mohammad Akram Sahi, PML-N senator Saleem Zia, AFP secretary Mohammad Zafar, Brig Jilani, HEC advisor Shaheen Khan and other dignitaries attended the closing ceremony and distributed prizes among the winners.

The new national record holders were given cash prizes with Liaquat getting Rs20,000 and Sidra bagging Rs10,000. The AFP chief also gave a cash prize to Mohammad Sajjad (Rs10,000) and Sumaira Taiba (Rs8,000) for winning silver and bronze medals respectively at the Al Fajr athletics championship in Iran recently.

The championships which saw all affiliated units of the AFP take part in track and field events also had participation from two German women associated with the German Embassy. One of them, Nadina Gill, clinched second position in the women’s 5,000m race.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2015

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