ISLAMABAD

Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) president Maj Gen (r) M Akram Sahi came down hard on Pakistan Olympics Association (POA) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) for completely ignoring athletics players from Asian Games-bound contingent.

Talking to The Nation, Sahi said: “Athletes were getting excessive training at the PSB for the last four months under the watchful eyes of Pakistan's best available coaches. When I met with IPC minister Mian Riaz before the departure of Commonwealth Games-bound squad, he promised me next time only merit would be given priority when it comes to sending national teams or players abroad.

“Now where is the merit as the athletes are very dishearten as they continued training even during the holy month of Ramazan and had dreams to represent the country at international level and had bright chances of winning medals for the country, but all their efforts went in vain when they were not included in the Asian Games-bound squad.”

“Athletics are played in more than 200 countries of the world and is called mother of all games, but here in Pakistan, no one bother to give athletes due recognition. The AFP has spent a huge amount of money on training of athletes despite acute shortage of funds. The athletes had pinned great hopes on Asian Games, now I fear majority of them after getting another snub might stop practicing which would be a huge national loss and no one else but the PSB and the POA would be held responsible for this,” he added.

Sahi asked despite being recognised by the IAAF and Asian Athletics Federation, why such treatment was rendered to the AFP. “They are not punishing me but indeed the future of the country.”

“The purpose of the PSB is to help the federations, but they are playing in the hands of a few certain individuals, who prefer their vested interests to the players’ welfare. The PSB can't implement so-called sports policy on the POA, but those federations who are fully abiding by the rules and regulations are being punished for taking just stance,” Sahi stated.

“I am going to attend PSB executive committee meeting today (Wednesday) and I will raise all my concerns and try to know the exact reasons behind neglecting athletics first from Commonwealth Games and now from Asian Games,” he said.

“Pakistan sports are on continuous decline for the last decade or so and everybody is aware of the fact, who is responsible for the country's debacle performances in international meets. Time is ripe when the IPC minister and the PSB must shun double standards and adopt a very clear-cut policy as already huge damages have been inflicted and any further delay in implementation can cause inerrable damages to Pakistan sports,” Sahi concluded.