Arshad Nadeem on Wednesday kept Pakistan's hopes of its maiden medal at Tokyo Olympics alive as he went through to the final of the men's javelin with a throw of 85.16 metres.
The feat made him the first Pakistani to qualify for the final of any track and field event at the Olympics.
Nadeem's throw was third-best of the day behind India's Neeraj Chopra (86.65m) and world leader Germany's Johannes Vetter (85.64m).
The 24-year-old thrower from Khanewal finished above Germany's Julian Weber and Czech's Jakub Vadlejch to win his group and a place in the medal round — a performance that got his coach out of his seat applauding.
Nadeem will be joined by Finland's Lassi Eteltalo, whose first attempt of 84.50m, a season's best, granted him passage to the medal round.
Speaking to the media after qualifying for the final, Nadeem said he was thankful for the support given to him by Pakistanis. He also appealed to the nation for more prayers so that he can given a stellar performance in the final.
The athlete also thanked his coach for his tireless efforts in training him for the Olympics. "We will keep performing like this," he said, ending with an emphatic "Pakistan Zindabad".
The 2012 Olympic champion and bronze medallist five years ago in Rio, Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago failed to advance, as he fell short with a throw of 79.33m.
Nadeem has a personal-best throw of 86.38m, which he achieved in April during his gold medal run at the Imam Raza Athletics Cup in Iran.
He is one of the few Pakistani athletes to secure direct qualification for Olympics, thanks to his gold medal-winning throw at South Asian Games in December 2019.