Haider Ali makes history by winning Pakistan's first-ever gold medal at Tokyo Paralympics

Published September 3, 2021
Ukraine's Mykola Zhabnyak (L), Haider Ali (M) and Brazil's Joao Victor Teixeira de Souza Silva (R) pose with their medals in discus throw at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games. — Photo courtesy Paralympics Games Twitter
Ukraine's Mykola Zhabnyak (L), Haider Ali (M) and Brazil's Joao Victor Teixeira de Souza Silva (R) pose with their medals in discus throw at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games. — Photo courtesy Paralympics Games Twitter
Pakistani athlete Haider Ali celebrates his gold medal in discus throw at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games. — Photo courtesy Paralympics Games Twitter
Pakistani athlete Haider Ali celebrates his gold medal in discus throw at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games. — Photo courtesy Paralympics Games Twitter

Athlete Haider Ali made history on Friday by winning a gold medal in the discus throw competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games, becoming the first Pakistani to do so.

Ali achieved a 55.26 metre throw at his fifth attempt out of a total of six to score the best distance — almost 3m longer than Ukraine's Mykola Zhabnyak who scored 52.43m to come in second place, , according to Radio Pakistan.

Brazilian Joao Victor Teixeira de Souza Silva won bronze with a throw of 51.86m.

The official Paralympics Games accounted posted on Twitter that the attempt was a "personal best" for Ali.

Celebrating his win, the athlete said the gold medal would be "very important" for para-sports in Pakistan since others would be able to see what can be achieved through hard work.

"I hope to be a role model for other people that have a disability [and who] don’t compete in sports to take part in para-sports," he said.

Punjab Sports Minister Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti said Ali had made the entire nation proud by winning the gold medal. He announced a reward of Rs2.5 million for the Olympian, saying it would be given to him by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at a ceremony upon his return.

The United States Embassy in Islamabad also congratulated him for the win and said he was "used to creating history".

Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry thanked the athlete for his win on Twitter. "We are proud of you," he tweeted.

Ali — who hails from Gujranwala — suffers from cerebral palsy. This is not the first time he has won a medal at the Paralympics. However, his previous medals were for long jump.

He won a bronze medal at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 and a silver medal at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008.


Additional reporting by Abu Bakar Bilal.

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