DOHA: Pakistan’s top grappler Mohammad Inam Butt won the gold medal at the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games in the Qatari capital Doha, defeating Georgia’s Dato Marsagishvili in the 90kg final at Katara Beach late on Monday.
The 30-year-old is Pakistan’s lone participant among 1237 athletes from 97 countries, who are competing in 14 different disciplines at the Games that started Friday and end on Wednesday. A total of 350 medals are up for grabs at the Games which were created by the world’s Olympic committees and announced in 2015.
Inam, Pakistan’s sole gold medallist in last year’s Commonwealth Games lived up to expectations as he defeated Marsagishvili 5-2 after a thrilling contest.
The Gujranwala-born Inam showed his class from the early rounds and powered up his capacity against the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Marsagishvili in the final game.
The Georgian took a 2-0 lead with just a point more required to win gold, but Inam was not the one to give up so easily. He made it 2-2 with two throws, and with seconds remaining in the first period, produced a 3-point takedown to clinch a thrilling contest.
“For the last three months I was training for this one, to beat that guy. I knew he was the strongest that’s why for three months I dedicated my training on his technique,” explained Inam in the mixed zone.
“I trained very hard for this after missing the World Wrestling Championship in Kazakhstan last month,” he added. “It was not easy but I was confident of winning gold at the Beach Games. I have been training hard at home too, but training myself, and then also teaching and training other juniors at my gym is tough. I picked up an injury almost two months ago and underwent surgery.”
After his triumph, Inam posed for several selfies with his devoted fans who had gathered to create a fantastic atmosphere in the stands.
“Wherever Pakistanis see their compatriots competing in sports they always show their love, because there are not many great athletes in our country. I came here, I played hard and they love me for that,” he said and explained why he is so good in Beach Wrestling. “This is my own game because in Pakistan we have a similar type of wrestling. That’s why I find a better grip than the other wrestlers do.”
Inam had earlier recorded emphatic wins in all his bouts on the day to finish at the top in Group ‘A’ and got a smooth sailing in the semi-final, defeating Pedro Jacinto Garcia Perez of Spain 3-0.
Starting with a landslide 3-0 win over Portugal’s Adao Rafael Andrade da Silva, Inam also triumphed against Marsaghishvili in the group stage, which he rounded off with 1-0 and 3-1 wins over Turkey’s Murat Ozkan and Kanan Aliyev respectively.
Inam had qualified for the Games after finishing as runner-up in a qualifying tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in May. Next up for him, are qualifiers for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019