Celebrate the athlete

Published August 9, 2022

TALK about delivering on your promise: javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem did that in the grandest style at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Sunday night. Ahead of the Games, the 25-year-old had vowed he would return with a medal and went on to win gold, smashing the event record with a superb throw of 90.18m. It was monumental considering Arshad had a throwing elbow injury, and was competing without his coach there. He is only the second Asian to achieve a throw of over 90m — a distance good enough to win any event. The Commonwealth Games might pale in comparison to the more competitive Olympics or the World Athletics Championships — where Arshad finished fifth in each of their last editions — but the one in Birmingham had a strong field of competitors. It included Anderson Peters, fresh from winning the Worlds in Oregon last month with a throw of over 90m. Former world champion Julius Yego was there, so was former Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott. Neeraj Chopra, the Olympic champion, wasn’t there due to an injury but the Indian has never crossed the 90m mark.

The Paris Olympics in 2024 are Arshad’s next target. Before that, he will have a chance to square off against Neeraj at the Asian Games. He will go into both events as the heavy favourite. However, to ensure that he remains on top, he should be provided the best treatment for his elbow injury that he’s had since last year. It’s high time Pakistan’s sports authorities realised how elite athletes should be treated. Officials should also let go of the age-old practice of taking the credit. After Arshad’s win in Birmingham, he had to thank the Athletics Federation of Pakistan for providing support and the Pakistan Olympic Association for making him one of the 12 athletes from the country who receive a monthly stipend from the International Olympic Committee. The truth is that Arshad has proved himself worthy of all that. It’s time that athletes like him are celebrated for their achievements.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2022

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