LAHORE: Talha Talib has some regrets after narrowly missing out on an Olympic medal in Tokyo. But he is looking beyond that, and looking to do more for the country. He only wants some support.
The difference between Talha and a maiden weightlifting medal for Pakistan at the Games was just two kilogrammes. A gap not insurmountable, he says. And one he feels wouldn’t have been there had he been given modern equipment in the lead-up to the recently-concluded Olympics.
In the 67kg event on the second day of Olympic competition, Talha lifted a total of 320kg, and at one point seemed destined for bronze until eventually finishing fifth.
Back at his home in Gujranwala, he is now preparing for the qualifying round for next year’s Commonwealth Games which is to be held in October in Singapore. But the pain of failing to become only Pakistan’s third individual Olympic medallist does linger on for him.
“I only had equipment made locally to train,” Talha told Dawn on Tuesday. “I keep thinking what I could’ve done if I had modern equipment.
“I once again ask of the government to provide me with modern equipment at my home so I can do even better in training and rise to the expectations of the nation following my Olympic performance.”
The 21-year-old informed that his performance came despite no training camp being held by the Pakistan Weightlifting Federation at the Pakistan Sports Complex.
Instead he continued to train under his father, who wasn’t alongside him in Tokyo where Talha was accompanied by PWF president Hafiz Imran Butt.
“My father and coach, Mohammad Islam was a national junior champion and also won bronze at Asian level in 1999,” Talha informed, when asked if a foreign coach would help him achieve greater things in the future.
“He was the one who inspired me to pursue weightlifting as a career and I’m quite satisfied with his abilities as a coach but what I need is modern equipment.”
He hoped that his performance, and that of javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem, who also finished fifth at the Olympics, would see the government take sports more seriously and provide athletes with the facilities to do even better.
The Punjab government has announced cash prizes of Rs1million for both Talha and Arshad but while Wapda, the parent department of the duo, has announced an award of Rs1million for Arshad, Talha said he had no news of a similar reward for him.
“I think I’ll be getting it too,” said Talha.
Arshad’s coach Fayyaz Bukhari too is in line to receive a prize of Rs500,000 from Punjab sports minister Rai Taimur Bhatti but Talha’s father wouldn’t be receiving anything.
“Since Hafiz Imran was acting as Talha’s coach, it isn’t possible for us to announce a prize for a PWF official,” a spokesman of the Punjab sports minister informed.
“The Punjab government has also provided equipment to Talha worth Rs2million ahead of his participation at the Games,” he added.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2021