AMID a pall of gloom owing to murky political and economic scenario, Pakistani weightlifter Nooh Dastagir Butt brought joy for the nation by clinching the first gold for the country at the recent Commonwealth Games that were held in Birmingham. Just as I was enjoying the great piece of news, there came another one; Arshad Nadeem, the athlete who sent his javelin sailing over 90 metres, which is considered the mark of greatness in the sport. In doing so, Arshad became the first South Asian ever to cross that mark. The Independence Day this year is sweeter than ever, and we must thank our sports heroes who came from nowhere to make us feel proud to be Pakistanis.
In the 109+kg category, Nooh lifted 173kg in snatch, while in clean and jerk, he lifted a massive 232kg, setting another record. Overall, Butt lifted 405kg, which is also a Games’ record. In the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, he had won the bronze, and had a silver medal at the World Championships in Tashkent last year in December.
After lifting 170kg, Nooh improved it to 173kg in his second attempt. He emerged winner over New Zealand’s David Andrew Liti (170kg), while India’s Gurdeep Singh had a tie for the third place with England’s Gordon Shaw at 167kg. Then in clean and jerk competition, Nooh twice beat marks of 218kg and 224kg by Liti, and a lift of 223kg by Gurdeep, lifting 225kg in his first attempt before lifting 232kg to finish with a total of 405kg. Nooh also earned honour of improving the record of 403kg by Liti who had won the gold four years ago. Nooh has dedicated his gold to his father, saying he was the motivational force behind his success.
As for Arshad, he was nursing an elbow injury in his throwing arm and yet made it big, breaking his own personal best thrice in the same competition. He was clearly giving it all that he had got and then some more.
Overall, Pakistan had one of its best outing in the Commonwealth Games, finishing in the top-20 on the medals table, with two golds, three silvers and as many bronze medals. This is a proud moment for Pakistan and a reason to celebrate. These achievements by Nooh, Arshad and all the winners clearly tell us what our athletes can do if they get the support they need in terms of training and fitness. For the time being, let us simply bask in the glory of the success recorded on the international stage by our sportspersons. They certainly made the 75th anniversary of our independence a little more memorable. Thank you, folks!
Parvez Iqbal Lak
Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2022