KARACHI   -  Pakistan’s pride taekwondo athlete Taimoor Saeed promised to repeat same performance in UAE he did in the Korean International Taekwondo Championship in Islamabad, where he won gold medal in the Al-Fujairah International Taekwondo Championship in 70+ junior heavyweight category.

Taimoor expressed these views during an exclusive interview to The Nation at his residence on Friday along with this father Umar Saeed, who is a diehard promoter and a former sportsman himself.

“I am blessed to have such parents, who are not only highly supportive, but also take a keen interest. We were struggling to find a place where we could practice, as the club where I along with other practice was closed down due to school administrations orders and we were practicing at open spaces, parks and even at roadsides. I was so down and was seriously thinking about leaving taekwondo. My father sensing my state of mind, promised me he will do something and within few days, he surprised me by starting to construct a state of the art taekwondo practice area at our own land. He bought shades, covers and also spent around Rs1million on purchasing stuff required for practice and hired a top professional coach not only for me, but for several other players. Now they all are enjoying topclass facilities, training under top coaches and all without spending a single penny,” Taimoor said.

He said he had remained two months on sidelines due to a nasty injury after returning from Islamabad. “But when Pakistan Taekwondo Federation President Lt Col (R) Wasim Ahmed Janjua contacted my father and informed him about the international event in UAE, I had almost one-month. I talked to my coach and he told me that one-month is not enough to prepare and especially after coming out from career-threatening injury. But he promised me that if I train hard, I can still pose serious challenge to any given opponent. I started training and let me assure all, I am feeling same zeal, same strength and no pain at all. I am hitting powerful kicks, smashes and I am sure, I won’t let myself and country down. I had good chances of winning gold, although it is only my second major event abroad and I am well short of international exposure, but even then, I am relaxed and highly optimistic about doing well in UAE,” he added.

He said a country has now a sportsman prime minister it can be hoped that fast declining fortunes of sports would take a turn upward and all the sports including taekwondo would get special attention both financially and administratively.

He said federation under Col Wasim was doing a marvellous job and the government should come forward to lend a helping land to the federation so that it could produce real champions as there is immense talent available in the country that needed to be patronized and groomed.

He said he wants to represent Pakistan in the Olympic qualifiers and want to train at Iran or anywhere where he can get best training while major events at the world and Asian level are also on his radar. “I know I am just 17 and I have long years to train and win for the country but for this, I need exposure and training. For how long I had to rely on my father for all this. I am sure the PM will help the youth and allocate funds for all the federations, who are doing top class job, Taimoor concluded.

While sharing his views Umar Saeed said sports is his passion, he was a brilliant athlete in college and university and also won a lot of medals in swimming, squash, taekwondo and other sports but due to other commitments, he could not focus on sports. “Allah had given me three sons and by His kindness all the three are sportsmen. I had offered PTF to sponsor athletes and ready to help any deserving athlete who wants to play for Pakistan.”

Umar said he would definitely sponsor the PTF if they manage to get Asian Qualifiers or any other international event they want to conduct in Pakistan as I firmly believe helping sports is helping the youth and securing their future as well.