KARACHI, Nov 21: Enterprise sailing boat became Pakistan’s symbol in the Asian Games eversince Byram Avari and Pakistan Navy officer Munir Sadiq won a gold medal at the Bangkok Asiad in 1978.
The victory, which came as a big surprise, opened a new chapter in Pakistan’s sports history as the nation went on to dominate in that class for no less then 16 years before surrendering the title at Hiroshima in 1994.
The most significant thing of the Bangkok feat was that as sailing was not officially recognised, the pair was not sponsored by the government and they had to foot their own bill.
The two sailors had gone through rigorous training to meet the big challenge. They sailed courageously beating the wind and the fleet of opponent’s for the joyous moment to clinch country’s first-ever gold in the sport.
The triumph, a new beginning, paved the way for the government to grant official status to Pakistan Sailing Federation (PSAF) formerly Pakistan Yachting Association (PYA).
The number of gold was doubled in the next Asiad held at Delhi in 1982. Byram retained Enterprise gold with his wife Goshpi being the crew this time while the other came through the efforts of the then Capt. K. M. Akhtar in OK Dinghy.
A new Enterprise pair of water-oriented naval officers – Munir Sadiq and Mohammad Zakaullah emerged on the horizon and kept the country’s flag high at the Seoul Asian Games in 1986 and Beijing Asian Games in 1990.
Pakistan’s supremacy surprisingly came to a halt when Munir sailing with his younger brother Mamoon, also a naval officer, were relegated to silver medal at Hiroshima in 1994.
However, the good thing that occurred in the Japanese city was that the efforts of former PSAF secretary, Capt (retd) A. R. Arshad, finally bore fruitful results when Pakistan captured another medal, a bronze, in Optimist class meant for U-15 boys and girls.
The Munir-Mamoon pair for the second time had to be content with a silver medal at the Bangkok Asian Games four years later.
At the same games, naval officer Zahid Rauf also did the country proud when he captured a bronze in Super Moth class. Thus it became the fourth boat after Enterprise, OK Dinghy and Optimist in which Pakistan excelled by finishing on the podium at the Asian level.
Pakistan grabbed their third silver in Enterprise this time through the pair of Shehryar Arshad- Mohammad Riaz in the last Asian Games at Busan, South Korea.
Apart from Asian Games, Pakistani sailors have brought numerous laurels to the nation in World Enterprise, Asian regatta and Optimist.
Pakistan are eyeing a medal in Match Racing at Doha Asian Games slated between Dec 1 to 15 after organisers have omitted Enterprise class.
Pakistan’s achievement at a glance
Year Venue Boat Medal winner G S B
1978 Bangkok Enterprise Byram Avari/Munir Sadiq 1 - -
1982 Delhi Enterprise Byram Avari/Goshpi Avari 1 - -
OK Dinghy K. M. Akhtar 1 - -
1986 Seoul Enterprise Munir Sadiq/Zakaullah 1 - -
1990 Beijing Enterprise Munir Sadiq/Zakaullah 1 - -
1994 Hiroshima Enterprise Munir Sadiq-Mamoon Sadiq - 1 -
Optimist Arsalan Khan - - 1
1998 Bangkok Enterprise Munir Sadiq/Mamoon Sadiq - 1 -
Super Moth Zahid Rauf - - 1
2002 Busan Enterprise Shehryar Arshad/ Riaz - 1 -