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Pakistani sprinter hopes to rub shoulders with Bolt at the Olympics

Published Jul 12, 2012 11:32am


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Pakistani athlete Liaquat Ali warms up during a training session at the Jinnah Stadium Sports Complex in Islamabad. -Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan's wild card sprinter Liaquat Ali dreams of racing against Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay, hoping to give the world's fastest men a run for their money at the London Olympics.

“I wish I get a chance in the same heat as Bolt or Gay - it's one of my main dreams,” said the 27-year-old who stands little chance of clearing the first heat in a galaxy of world class sprinters.

Ali achieved Pakistan's record of 10.10 seconds last year – a far cry from the world record of 9.58 seconds set by Jamaica's Bolt at the World Athletics championship in Germany in August 2009, and the 9.69 achieved by United States' Gay a month later.

“I like Gay's style of running and that's why he is my favourite,” said Ali, who remembers meeting the US star at the 2009 World meet, where he finished 61st in the heats, clocking a disappointing 10.64 seconds.

Ali, who comes from the small town of Renala Khurd in central Punjab province and who is a soldier in the army's sports department, says champions live in a different world.

“They are world class simply because their training and facilities are high class and we cannot match them,” said Ali.

“I get the basic facilities but it's tough for others,” he added.

Beating the odds, Ali won silver in the 100m relay at the South Asian Athletics Championship in India in 2008 and bronze in the 100 and 200 metres at the South Asian Federation Games in Dhaka two years ago.

In the Asian championship in Japan last year he was disqualified after a false start.

Coach Maqsood Ahmed said Ali can better his national record at the Olympics.

“Ali has done real hard work to get ready for the Olympics but realistically speaking the competition in the Olympics will be very tough, so the main aim for him is to better the national record,” said Ahmed.

Ali's other aim is to improve the image of Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed in May 2011.

“When I go abroad people ask about Pakistan and our difficulties, but I always tell them our country is one of the best in the world and that they should come and see our lovely places and not fear,” said Ali.

Pakistan is sending 39 athletes to the Games but their chances of a medal are only in field hockey.


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Comments (11) Closed

Victor Jul 12, 2012 05:49pm
Its not necessary that Bolt and Ali comes in same heats. Because for sure after 1st heat Ali will be out.
raika45 Jul 12, 2012 12:00pm
Remember for the 100 meters with the current record means one has to cover some 10.3 meters or so PER SECOND.A half second loss in speed is a loss of some 5 meters.All the same the best to him. May he fulfill Asia's wish for a sprint king.
Num Jul 12, 2012 08:58pm
Has he really qualified for Olympics? I think Pak is going for only 3 events, Hockey and two wildcard in swimming and shooting.
Khizr Jul 12, 2012 12:49pm
Liaqat Ali, champions do not live in a different world. Pakistanis can do what other people in the world can do. Set goal to beat your personal best of 10.10 at this Olympics. Good luck and Rab Rakha.
Najma Jul 12, 2012 01:40pm
Wish you best for Olympics and for future.
Raza Jul 12, 2012 12:22pm
1. Being there means that you have worked hard and have positive attitude, you deserve congratulations for that. 2. Improving the national record at the olympics would be good achievement, for sure you will have services of some very good pace setters there!:). Goal should be to continually improve and give your best and then pass it on to others. Our standards will improve If Hopefully more and more people young and old engage in positive recreational activities and athletics
farhanshahidkhan Jul 12, 2012 11:38am
Best of Luck LIaqat. Only competing is a big honor
Num Jul 12, 2012 10:44pm
For Pakistanis Yes.
Zeeshan Jul 12, 2012 11:54pm
Ali you already have achieved enough to be where you are however do not aim only to beat your best, I am sure you can beat Usain if you keep your aim high. My best wishes are with you....
qazi Jul 13, 2012 01:20am
its genetics.. it doesnt matter which part of the world you may live in bro.. its pure genetics. Hard work comes later but you must have the genetic edge... bolt too comes from an improvished country with basic infrastructure but since he is gifted so he's the champ
Sri Jul 13, 2012 02:11am
Go for it, you can do it!