Pakistan's most low-key medal hope, its Wushu team, have sprung the biggest surprise of the Asian Games, winning silver in the Men's Sanshou 75kg Wushu event. Pakistan's Sanshou fighter Ijaz Ahmed put up a spirited performance before going down to Hamidreza Gholipour of Iran in the final. The 29-year-old Pakistani had reached the final after beating Magsarjav Batjagal of Mongolia in the semi-final.
This, after Pakistan's wrestlers overcame all odds to land gold at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in India, ranks amongst one of the most extraordinary feats in sports considering that the martial art form exists amidst not so ideal conditions. This coupled with the fact that the nation is fixated with cricket means the only official understanding the public has of the art comes from Jet Li and Jackie Chan films.
It is also a lesser know fact that martial arts and martial artists in Pakistan exists in huge numbers. It can be termed a thriving underground scene which is spurred by aficionados like Zulfiqar Ali Zulfi who have travelled around the world and brought back home the finer details to pass onto prospective fighters.
The Pakistan Wushu Federation with the support of the International Wushu Federation was able to secure a short tour of China, one of the pioneers of the art, before the Asian Games and it seems the move has paid dividends.
Ijaz Ahmed's most unlikely feat is another nudge to the sports ministry that should hopefully push it to play a more active role in the promotion of the lesser known sports in Pakistan.