ISLAMABAD-Pakistan’s golden boy Inam Butt once again made the country proud by grabbing gold medal in the 92kg weight category final in the 13th South Asian Games wrestling event played in Kathmandu, Nepal on Sunday.

In wrestling final, Inam played superbly against host nation’s Kumar and outplayed him to claim the gold medal. Pakistani wrestlers took part in seven different categories and won 3 gold and 4 silver medals. Inayat Ullah won gold medal in 70kg, Abdur Rehman won gold in 79kg, Tayyab Riaz won silver in 97kg, Zaman Anwer silver in 125kg, M Bilal silver in 61kg and Umair Ahmed won silver medal in 86kg.

Talking to The Nation, pride of Pakistan Inam Butt said: “I always love to carry forward national flag at international level. Whenever I enter the ring, I always try to give my best and due to this passion and hard work, I have once again won gold in South Asian Games wrestling. I hope the PSB and IPC Minister will continue to help the wrestlers, who just need proper diet, facilities and training and in return, they are hungry to win more international medals for Pakistan.”

It was a memorable day for Pakistan, as its handball team beat archrivals India 30-29 in the hard-fought final. Pakistan played remarkably well and managed to hold on the Indian challenge to grab gold medal. Talking to The Nation from Nepal, coach Naseer said: “It was complete drama in the first half, as India was first leading 3-1 and then it was 16-13 by the end of 30 minutes of the first half. The title was almost slipping out of our hands, as only 8 minutes were left in the second half and we were trailing 25-29. But hats off to my boys, who produced some stunning performances and managed to first level the score at 29-29 and then in the dying minutes of the final, they scored the match-winning 30th goal to clinch gold medal.

“I am grateful to IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, who remained highly instrumental throughout his stay in Nepal and bucked up the boys. Her words sprung magic for us and all the boys played out their hearts to grab gold medal. I am sure the minister will continue to support not only handball but other sports as well and we will continue to carry forward national hopes,” Naseer concluded.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan No 1 squash player Tayyab Aslam also won gold medal in the individual event, as he came from behind to beat Indian Harindar Pal 3-1 in the final. Besides Tayyab, Farhan Mehboob, Zafar sisters - Faiza and Madina Zafar – won bronze medals. Tayyab told The Nation, “This gold medal is for the brave people of Pakistan and to my coach Abdul Rasheed, who worked very hard on my training. I was very slow in the first game and Harindar was playing straight game, which was not suiting my style.

“After losing first game 8-11, I changed my game plan and put Harindar under pressure. I kept him on the run and played fast squash. My plan paid off and helped me win the second game 11-3. The third game was also played on high tempo as he matched fire-with-fire but finally I prevailed and took it 11-8. The same was the case in the fourth game where I was a bit slow while Harindar took healthy lead, but I timely countered his game plan and won it 11-8, thus grabbed the gold medal.

IPC Minister lauds Pak athletes’ performance

ISLAMABAD-Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza has lauded the performance of Pakistani athletes in the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal, saying it was possible due to the efforts of the government, IPC Ministry and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).

Talking to The Nation on Sunday, Mirza said: “The athletes could not provide better results without the support of the government, as facilities were provided and training camps were organised by the IPC Ministry throughout the year. It was decided in principle that the PSB will hold camps for the athletes soon after the 33rd National Games, but that couldn’t happen right in time due to Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) failure to hold the National Games in time. Now the POA is blaming the PSB for delaying the camps, rather than appreciating the IPC Ministry and PSB for their superb efforts.

“The way Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government successfully conducted the National Games just before the SAG, it gave extra motivation to all the athletes to get ready and give their best in Nepal. It was historic performance by our athletes in almost every event of the SAG. The way Arshad Nadeem broke the SAG record, set new national record and booked a place in the 2020 Olympics, it shows the sincere efforts of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Our athletes have managed to win 26 gold, 32 silver and 35 bronze medals so far, which shows their more than satisfactory performance.

“We had carefully selected the Pakistani contingent for the SAG. It is a clear message for all the joy-riders, who have enjoyed countless tours at the expense of the government, that their tour will remain closed during the tenure of current government. The POA is trying to make an issue that it had proposed 424-member contingent, but we never raised any question or restrain it from taking ahead the contingent. It is negligence of the POA that our football and cycling teams could not participate in the SAG.

“It is also a fact that our judo team participated in the SAG just because of PSB’s intervention. I am sure judokas would not disappoint the nation. We will keep in mind our athletes’ performance in the SAG and prepare a special plan for their further training. We will get our medal winners trained under top foreign coaches for the upcoming international events,” Mirza concluded.