A few days ago, my friend from a production house called me while shooting in the northern areas. He said that he had met an interesting sportsman in Gilgit-Baltistan, who has many achievements to his name. His name: Fazal Wadood. And at the age of just 15, this student of class 10 is a skiing champion along with excelling in a whole lot of other things as well. When I heard about Fazal’s achievements from my friend I was also impressed. Here is what he had to say about himself.
What got you into skiing?
Fazal Wadood: Horseriding actually. When I was five years old, I started horseriding with my father. In the winters, I used to accompany him to the ski resort in Naltar. There I saw people skiing on the slope. I started to walk on the snow too. I was also very happy to play with the snow.
We went there again the next year, this time to try and ski. We spent two or three days there. And the following year, we were there again, for seven days. My interest in skiing had grown.
Do you enjoy any other sports?
FW: I like squash. In fact, I happen to be the first squash player from Gilgit-Baltistan. I am also into paragliding, parasailing, water scooting, water skiing, trekking, rock climbing and mountaineering. My father is an environmental mountaineering instructor and a tour operator as well as an adventure and sports consultant. It helps.
Tell us about your skiing.
FW: I ski in international competitions, in the under-16 age category. My younger brother Jibran Hussain also skis. In competitions he skis in the under-13 category.
Did you have to struggle much?
FW: Yes, it was very hard for me to arrange for the necessary things in order to ski, things such as skiing equipment and gear. You know, snow-pants, jacket, boots, gloves, bindings, helmet, etc. A few of the things we imported from other countries, and there are still a few more things to import that can help me ski better.
You have won many laurels. Can you tell us about your achievements?
FW: In December, 2011, I got a special award in the 1st Children National Sport Climbing Championship [13 and under] at the Pakistan Sports Complex, Islamabad. I was only 13 years old then. A month later, in January, there was the Climbing Arena Competition at DHA Lahore’s EME Club, where I bagged the second position, again in the under-13 category. In 2013, I was third in slalom in the Children’s Ski Competition [master category]. I also took part in the giant slalom event where I also ended up third. Next up was the Inter-School Championship, again at the Climbing Arena in Lahore where I earned the second position in the under-16 category. In 2016, I took part in the 25th Junior Asian Games in Lebanon and the IFSC World Youth Sport Climbing Championship in China. In January this year, I was first among 170 participants from 41 countries in the Dream Program 2017 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In February, too, I was first and second in giant slalom and slalom, respectively, in the 5th Chief of Air Staff Open Ski Championship held at the Naltar Ski Resort.
How was the experience participating in international forums and did the government support you?
FW: Taking part in skiing events outside of Pakistan was, literally, a completely new territory for me. But I gained much understanding about international competition. I learnt a lot. It was also fun. And, no, I did not have any financial support from anybody or the government.
My father financed me throughout.
What was your most memorable victory or tournament?
FW: When they were giving medals in South Korean to position holders, I was waiting. Then they announced that the third position goes to Mexico, second to India and I thought maybe I am not among the position holders. Then they announced that “the first place goes to Fazal from Pakistan.” It is very difficult to describe that feeling.
What are your future plans regarding skiing?
FW: I just want to be the best skier at the national and international levels. I am working hard for this. I wish I could get advanced training abroad where I could learn new techniques.
Published in Dawn, EOS, April 16th, 2017