TEHRAN - Hats off to Pakistan's proud son MSajjad, who against all the odds, managed to win silver medal for country in 60m hurdles to ensure Pakistan wouldn't return empty-handed from the mega event in the second and last day of the 22nd Fajr International Indoor Competitions 2015 here Friday.

Odds were heavily against not only Pakistani but all the other participating athletes as indoor stadium environment was very unfriendly. It was very hard to even breath, competing and winning something for outsiders was not more than day-dreaming. Hosts Iran had the liberty of practicing at the same venue for the last several years while all the participating athletes were given accommodation at far-flung area. As per expectations, Iran managed to win all gold medals with the only exception of 400m flat race in which Iraq's Muhammad managed to win the gold right under the noses of Iran's athletes. It was more than a miracle that Sajjad repeated the same feat, which he did last time as with the narrowest margin Sajjad missed gold medal. It was only fraction of few micro seconds and both were neck and neck. It was a photo finish and took several replays to finally describe the actual winner. M Nawaz also started well in the same heat but he was struck by the elbow of opponent, which diverted his attention and he was left high and dry and finished the race at 5th place. It was indeed a great performance by the tall and lanky Nawaz, who managed to control himself from slipping, as he started off well, but hampered by the unfortunate incident.

While Pakistan surely was deprived of at least silver medal in 4x400m as Iran denied visa to Samiullah. Had Sami was in the team, Pakistan were all set to finish on podium. Without main runner Sami, it was left on the shoulders of experienced Sajjad to fill the gap. Sajjad although not an expert in the meet, did his level best as Pakistan finished 4th under tough circumstances. Had Sami was available the results could have been far different. It was the speed king Naukar Hussain, who ran his heart out and ensure Pakistan finished 4th. In the 400m, Naukar finished top among his group but unfortunately it was Iran once again which bagged the gold, and silver medals as Naukar finished at 4th and his younger brother Mehboob Ali was one step behind at fifth. Lone Pakistani female athlete Sumera Tayyaba failed to win medal but she did manage to win some hearts with her terrific performances. She also bettered her time, which she did in Pakistan. Team of Ikram, Naukar, Mehboob and Sajjad finished 4th in 4x400m relay.

Athletics Federation of Pakistan president Major General (R) M Akram Sahi should take up the issue first with Iranian Athletics Federation and then with Iranian embassy as why despite fulfilling all the legal documents, Sami was denied visa. It was not only visa refusal, in fact it was a sure shot medal from which Pakistan was deprived.

While talking exclusively with The Nation from Pakistan AFP president hails Sajjad's efforts and termed him the true champion. “It was Sajjad, who lived up to the occasion and ensured at least some satisfaction for Pakistan. I am very proud of his efforts and it is my promise to ensure hefty reward for Sajjad. It is the duty of Pakistan Sports Board and Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) ministry to duly recognise the efforts of Sajjad and announce cash incentives for him. He last time also won silver medal, but it was very unfortunate that no one bother to announce any cash award for him and other medal winners. How could it be possible for federation to seek better results from athletes when they are left high and dry. It is the time, PSB and IPC Minister must show some seriousness and recognise the efforts of Sajjad, who raise the green and white flag high at international level where 11 international countries were participating and majority of them left empty handed,” Gen Sahi said.

Meanwhile sharing his views Sajjad said: “I am thankful to almighty Allah for helping me to live up to the expectations of the nation and won medal for the country. It is quite unfortunate that we always carry the expectations and hopes of the country and by the grace of God manage to win laurels but no one bothers to say even few words of appreciation while announcement of cash awards is a far cry. I don't know why such step-motherly treatment is rendered to athletes. We always gave more than 100 percent for the country but in return get no praise or appreciation. Such attitude is very harmful for a sportsman as we only need appreciation. I can ensure, if properly treated, I have very little doubts about Pakistani athletes abilities, they can beat any given player at any given stage.”

The two-day event concluded, but it was by all means a very low-profile opening and concluding ceremony. To the much of surprise and anger of Pakistani contingent, hosts failed to install Pakistani flag among other participating nations despite several reminders and promises. It is hoped AFP president will raise the issue and ensure such major mistake would not commit again.

Meanwhile Pakistani athletes were especially given permission by head of delegation Brig Sahfi Ghazi to visit holy places in Tehran and suburbs and paid the rent from his personal pocket. “I would also give cash award to silver medalist M Sajjad. He has made country and team proud and would strongly recommend his name for cash awards from government and other platforms,” Brig Shafi said.