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Dejected Pakistani Paralympic athlete Naeem Masih at the Olympic Park after his 1500m heats – Photo courtesy National Paralympic Committee
Dejected Pakistani Paralympic athlete Naeem Masih at the Olympic Park after his 1500m heats – Photo courtesy National Paralympic Committee

KARACHI: Naeem Masih, one of Pakistan’s two representatives at the London 2012 Paralympics, was unable to qualify for the main round for the men’s 1500m – T46 finals on Saturday.

Masih finished second from last in the heats for the event, with a time of 4.51.35 minutes and 54 seconds behind the top-finisher Samir Nouioua of Algeria.

The 25-year-old from Kasur said he was extremely dejected at his failure to progress but officials of the Pakistani Paralympic team backed him to improve his performance.

“Naeem Masih came to us two months ago and started training for the Paralympics, so it was a big challenge for him,” officials told Dawn.com from London.

“We have very high hopes from him for the upcoming Paralympic events. We are going to provide him the opportunity to train and be ready in time for the second Asian Para Games in 2014 to be held in South Korea.”

Masih, who had been running on muddy fields of rural Punjab before signing up with the National Paralympic Committee, found the track at London’s Olympic Park very hard – a problem that other Paralympic athletes have also complained about at the Games.

“When you have been running on muddy fields and then on the old, worn out tracks we have in Pakistan, it comes as a big shock to your body when you run on hard and new tracks,” officials explained.

Pakistan’s hopes for a Paralympic medal are now pinned on their Beijing 2008 hero Haider Ali, who will participate in two events. His first, the 100m – T38 race is scheduled for later tonight (2105 BST) while the second, the long jump, is scheduled for Wednesday, September 5.

Officials confirmed that while Haider is set to participate in the 100m race tonight, he will not be competing for a medal, as he wants to maintain full fitness for the long jump.