Shining gold

Editorial Board
Friday, Aug 05, 2022

In a record-breaking performance weightlifter Nooh Dastgir Butt gave Pakistan their first gold medal in the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Wednesday night. Nooh lifted Pakistan's otherwise frustrating campaign in the 72-team extravaganza with a record total of 405-kg which made him the new Commonwealth Games champion in the +109 kilogramme category. With the victory Nooh has become only the second Pakistani weightlifter to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Shuja-Uddin Malik is the only other weightlifter from Pakistan to have claimed a gold medal in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games in the 85-kg category. Hours before Nooh's title-winning triumph, seasoned judoka Shah Hussain Shah had ended Pakistan's barren run in the Games when he won the bronze medal in the -90 kg weight category of the judo competitions. Shah was one of the favourites for the title in Birmingham. However, he fell out of the race for the gold medal when he was beaten by Harrison Cassar of Australia in the quarter-finals. Despite his failure to win the Commonwealth Games crown, Shah was good enough to finally add Pakistan's name to the medals table. Nooh then took Pakistan to No 19 on the table with his heroics at the National Exhibition Centre.

It is certainly a time for Pakistan to celebrate the heroics of Nooh and Shah, two athletes who have managed to win laurels for the country. They have done so despite all odds, because our athletes are lagging far behind their counterparts from other countries. Pakistan is the second largest country by population in the Commonwealth. But it is currently trailing even tiny nations on the medals table. The country may win a few more medals through star javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem and a couple of its experienced wrestlers but the unfortunate fact is that Pakistan is far from realizing its true potential. The prime reason is that our sports authorities have, over the years, failed to do their jobs. Most of our athletes taking part in the Games reached Birmingham without proper training, Many of them are there without any coaches as the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) had replaced them with joyriders instead. The fact that despite such odds athletes like Nooh and Shah are winning medals gives a lot of hope. This means that Pakistan's well of sporting talent hasn't dried up yet. It is time comprehensive measures were taken to lift our fortunes in the field of sports. We have a rich sporting history with a proven track record of winning world titles. With some concrete steps in the right direction, Pakistan can do much better in the next edition of the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Australia in 2026. Perhaps more importantly Pakistan can even end its medal drought in the Olympics at the 2024 Games in Paris or the Los Angeles Olympiad in 2028.