ISLAMABAD: A seven-member Pakistan athletics squad will travel to Iran by the end of ongoing month to compete in the second Imam Reza Cup being held in Mashhad from May 29 to 30, it was announced officially on Saturday.

“We’ve selected highly talented athletes to represent Pakistan at the Imam Reza Cup. This is a key competition in the build-up of our athletes to the World Athletics Championships and other important upcoming international events,” Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) president retired Maj Gen Mohammad Akram Sahi told APP on Saturday.

The athletes scheduled to leave for Iran on May 28 to participate in the competition include Shajar Abbas (100m & 200m), Abdul Mueed (200m & 400m), Sharoz Khan (high jump), Kashif Majeed (long jump) and Mohammad Yasir (javelin throw).

Coaches Qazi Tanveer Hussain and Rana Sajjad Ahmad Khan will accompany the athletes.

Sahi said the Imam Reza Cup would give much-needed exposure to the Pakistan athletes.

“This is a World Athletics-approved tournament. This is the same event where our javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem improved his personal best from 86.29 metres to 86.38 metres before featuring in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Hence, we believe that keeping in view the other upcoming international events, this tournament will help us a lot to gauge our athletes strong as well as weak areas,” the AFP president added.

Meanwhile, Sahi said Arshad and Yasir, another bright prospect, who were presently training in South Africa at the Northwest University in Potchefstroom under the guidance of coach Terseus Leibenburg, would return to the country on Tuesday to apply for US visas to participate in the World Athletics Championships, scheduled for July 15-24 in Oregon.

During 2022, the Pakistan athletes will compete in some major global-level events too, including the Commonwealth Games (CWG) being held from July 28 to Aug 8 in Birmingham and the Islamic Solidarity Games (ISG), to be staged from Aug 9 to 18 in Konya, Turkey.

Pakistan athletes were also scheduled to participate in this year’s Asian Games (Sept 10-25) in Hangzhou, China but these have been postponed indefinitely as the hosts battle a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2022

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