ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s karateka Saadi Abbas is set to compete at Karate I-Premier League where coveted points towards the 2020 Olympic standings will be at stake.

The three-day event starts on Friday in Dubai where world’s best karatekas in various weight divisions will be in action with the intent to accumulate the all-important points in pursuit of their Olympic dreams. Saadi will be contesting in 75kg category.

“Only the best competitors of the world take part in the Premier League. In each weight division 64 athletes will be trying their luck to make it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” Saadi told APP on Thursday on phone from Dubai where he is training with UAE’s national karate team.

“These qualifiers are taking place almost every month, so we [karatekas] know each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well. I’ve trained really hard for the event. I’ve tried to remove some of the shortcomings in my game with the help of the UAE national coach, who is a highly seasoned trainer,” added the 32-year-old, who is also Pakistan’s sole athlete in any weight division at the league.

“Sometimes it’s also a matter of luck because you have to pay the price even for a very little mistake you make on the day,” added the two-time Commonwealth championship gold medallist and former Asian champion.

Currently world number 23 in his division, Saadi would have to finish among top five in the league to earn a spot for the Olympics. In case if he remains unable to do that, he would still have the chance to make his dream come true as the Pakistan Karate Federation (PTF) is also planning to field him in a series of Premier League Olympic qualifying tournaments.

PKF secretary Andleeb Sandhu told APP that Saadi would keep on featuring in the league qualifying tournaments till their conclusion in May. The next qualifiers are scheduled to take place in Austria from Feb 28 to March 1, Morocco (March 13-15) and Madrid (April 17-19) and May 8-10 (Paris).

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020