ISLAMABAD      -       Pakistan athletes Naukar Hussain, Mehboob Hussain, Umar Sadaddat and Samiullah have expressed that they are confident about their chances in the upcoming 13th South Asian Games, scheduled to start in Kathmandu, Nepal today (Sunday).

While talking to The Nation, Pakistan’s most decorated athlete Naukar, who had won gold medal in the Asian Indoors Athletics Championship, said: “One-week training camp for such mega event is a joke. At one end, the government and masses want us to perform well, but at the other end, the Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) are not paying heed towards facilities. As we are eating chicken and vegetables daily, how we can become world champions by eating such rough food? The pathetic condition of Allama Iqbal Hostel’s mess is more than enough to prove my claims. I am shocked to see that the PSB is busy in self praise, rather than paying heed towards sufferings of the athletes. Posting videos on social media and twitter cannot hide actual facts. We are the faces of the country, who work day and night to win medals. We do not demand luxury facilities, but at least the IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza should pay one surprise visit to see and understand our sufferings.

In the past, Malik Imtiaz Hussain was Director Hostels, who treated all of us as his own sons. We never had any issues in his tenure, as we were given special attention and hygienic food, including mutton, milk and dates. But now we are left on the mercy of non-professionals. Deputy Director General Facilities Agha Amjedullah has managed to give acting charge of the hostels to Mian Wahid, who does not know about basic requirements of the athletes. I hope the Minister will spare few minutes and visit the camp. I will be competing in 400m plain and 400m relay in my 10th international event. I am sure, we will vie for medals and try to win gold medals.”

Asian Indoor Games’ gold medallist Mehboob, while lashing out at the IPC Ministry and PSB, said: “Living in the training camp is like living in hell. It is highly pathetic, as we cannot utilise the facilities, despite being the national champions. I am deeply hurt to get such treatment by the PSB. The seven-day camp is not even enough to prepare for a local event, but we are now going to represent the country in the 13th SAG Games. However, I am optimistic about winning gold medals in 440m hurdle and 400m relay, as my fitness is up to the mark. The track at Jinnah Stadium can cause career-ending injuries, as it is completely broken. I request the IPC Minister to order replacing of the track.”

Samiullah said: “I will participate in 100m, as it is my first tour, and fight for winning a medal. I request the IPC Minister to have mercy on us and order DDG Facilities to provide us necessary facilities. Umar Sadaddat said: “I will take part in 400 flat and 400m relay. I had represented the country in five international events and performed well. I and my team will fight for a gold medal in the SAG. We were not provided even handful facilities in the training camp. Rice and vegetables would not help us win medals. I hope action will be taken against the responsible persons in the PSB.” When this scribe met PSB Director Media Muhammad Azam Dar and informed him about bad treatment to the national athletes, Dar said: “He will inform PSB Acting DG Amna Imran and action will be taken to streamline the issues.” It is high time that the IPC Minister must take notice of the issues and ensure action against the responsible persons.