Shah sets eyes on Paris Olympics

Friday, Aug 05, 2022

From Alam Zeb Safi

BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan’s premier judoka Shah Hussain, who lifted bronze for the country in the Commonwealth Games here on Wednesday, has confirmed that he has sights on the next Olympics which will be held in Paris in 2024.

“Yes, definitely I have decided to press for a seat in the 2024 Paris Olympics,” Shah told ‘The News’ here in an interview on Thursday.

“I was thinking about that and have made my mind that I should go for that,” Shah was quick to add.

Tokyo-based Shah is the only Pakistani judoka who has featured in the Olympics twice after qualifying for the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The 2024 Paris Olympics qualifiers have already started and the next two years will be very crucial for the country’s premier fighter to click in the various events. Normally just ahead of the Olympics a final standing for Olympics is made.

On the previous both occasions Shah qualified for the world’s most prestigious extravaganza on the basis of the continental quota.

Here in Birmingham, it shocked Shah when he lost his -90kg quarter-final against Harriosn Cassar of Australia which forced the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games silver medallist to play for the bronze. “Yes it was terrible. I was not in senses and could not move when I lost to the Australian as I was trying for the gold. You must have seen the fight, how top-level judo I played which was full of merit and character,” Shah said.

“I don’t blame anyone but I played a better game,” Shah said.

“After the loss I did not talk to anyone for three hours. Then I tried to motivate myself and recollect myself as I could not go from here empty-handed. And I had to face South Africa’s rookie judo star Breytenbach Thomas-Laszio in the bronze medal fight and I had to beat him and I did it,” Shah said.

“I should have won gold and everybody who knows judo can assess how I have played in this event,” Shah said.

Shah said he hardly trained for one month for the Commonwealth Games due to injury. “You know I got injured in April while undergoing training in Tokyo. And it needed at least three months rest to avoid surgery. I rested barely for only two months as I had to feature in these Games and I think it’s good that at least I have earned bronze despite injury,” he said. Both Shah and Qaiser played in the Commonwealth Games without a coach and now in the Islamic Games to be held in Turkey from August 9-18, Shah’s Japanese coach Komichi Toshiki will be with him as he has already been accredited for that event.

Asked whether he will go for the Olympic qualifiers without conducting any surgery, Shah said he thinks he will go for it by tapping the area.

This time Pakistan’s judo authorities are also set to field Qaisar Afridi in the Olympic qualifiers which have started recently with the Grand Slam in Hungary.

Qaiser had featured in that event. Here in Birmingham Qaisar lost his -100kg first fight against New Zealand’s Jason Koster and was exited on Wednesday.