ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s pride 110m hurdle champion Mohsin Ali looks optimistic about defending his title in the upcoming South Asian Games to be held in Guwati, India.

Talking to The Nation, Mohsin, who is also defending champion of South Asian Games 110m hurdles, termed Indian Sidhanat as his main rival for the gold. “Indians have much better facilities, international exposure and are training for the SAG for the last two years, while on the other hand, we were given just five months for training. Even then, I still give myself around 70 to 80 percent chances of retaining my gold in the SAG.”

Mohsin said he had started taking keen interest in athletics during his college days at Ikhwan Science College in 2006, where he received training from M Ashraf, then from senior athlete M Shan, but he gave real credit of success to Sir Rafiq, who is IAAF level-IV coach. “Sir Rafiq completely transformed me and put all his experience and knowledge in me turning me into the best in the country. I can never forget what he did for me.

“In fact, during my college days, I didn’t have any other option but to start athletics as only that game was played in our college. I must accept I did the right thing as I am quite blessed and didn’t find any difficulty in becoming a national champion and my hard work paid great dividend soon, as after only three years of training and full attention, I managed to win South Asian Games gold for Pakistan,” he added.

Mohsin said he participated in World Indoor Athletics Championship in Qatar in 2010, where he managed to improve his time. “My national record is 13.84 seconds, which I did manage to improve in international meets. I also participated in Asian Athletics Championship in Iran in 2011, where I lost in the semifinals, while I played in the finals of the 2012 Asian Indoor Championship in Japan. These days, I am training with coach Bushra Parveen and improving a lot under his able coaching.”

To a query regarding coaching of local coached and facilities being provided to the players at Pakistan Sports Complex, Mohsin replied: “Coaching and facilities are fine, but if we want to win at Asia and world level, we have to invest on athletes. I strongly recommend Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) president Maj Gen (R) M Akram Sahi to arrange top international coaches from either China or Russia, who are affordable and can help our athletes a great deal. At least 6-month training should also be arranged at China for national athletes as it can boost our chances of winning international medals.”

He said he was a diehard fan of Chinese former Olympic and world record holder Liu Xiang. “It is my childhood dream to represent Pakistan in Olympics and create history by winning a medal in the world’s most prestigious event.”

When asked about difference between Pakistan and international athletes, Mohsin replied: “We are almost at par with any top athlete of the world, we put in same amount of efforts, but they are far ahead when it comes to facilities, diet and supplements. Only in India, they conduct around 26 national events, besides send athletes to international competitions, while in Pakistan, we just get one national championship or two events round the year.”

“I request the AFP to raise the amount of national events to at least 6 to 10 and allocate reasonable cash incentives for medal winners. I know the AFP is cash starved, but the government and PSB should step forward and help the federation so that they may take us at par of international teams and athletes, as without investing, there is no hope of medals at international stage,” Mohsin concluded.