Nooh demands preferential treatment for elite athletes

Abdul Mohi Shah
Friday, Aug 05, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Mohammad Nooh Dastagir Butt, who made the country proud by smashing Commonwealth Games record on his way to win country’s first weightlifting gold at the Birmingham Games, said that professional athletes need to be treated differently as instead of enforcing your will, “requirements are to provide them with the best support staff” to sharpen their skills.

In his first exclusive interview with ‘The News’ after landing gold, Nooh said unlike hosts of other weightlifters around the world, he has got absolutely no facilities whatsoever in Pakistan to improve his weightlifting ability to a new height.

“I only train with my father – Dastageer Butt who is the former national champion.

Though the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) organised a camp for a brief period in Lahore, I did not join that camp mainly because of the lack of facilities there.

You have to cook the food at your own and training facilities are improper and insufficient. On top of that you cannot train in such humid and hot conditions.

Back at my place, my father has made all the required arrangements for proper training which help me a lot. I have won gold in Birmingham mainly because of my father’s extraordinary support. I dedicate my medal to my father and family.”

Nooh, a former world junior champion, added that the time has come when the sports authorities in Pakistan start thinking in terms of providing the required facilities to the elite athletes.

“Athletes who are capable of making a mark internationally should have the access to proper training hall, equipped with all facilities required for state of the art training, proper food and the access to professional support staff. Pakistan athletes who have the ability to win medals at international level have already proved their mark.

“These elite athletes must be treated differently so that they keep on improving. If I don’t have proper support staff, there is an increasing chance of my getting injured and hence going out of the competition for months and sometimes for years. You need experts to guide and help you. We lost Talha Talib for next four years because of lack of knowledge and support staff facility. Now despite having no fault of his own, he is out of the competition for the next four years -- indeed a big loss to the country’s sports.”

Nooh thanked the Pakistan Olympic Association’s high-ups for making all the arrangements, helping the weightlifters in the hour of need.

“I know that the weightlifting federation has been suspended by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the POA helped our coach reach here. I don’t want to speak against anyone here but the best thing is to keep politics out of sports. I am thankful to even the government but there is a need to help the athletes by realising their requirements. Now that I have won the first gold for the country at the Games, I am hopeful that the federal and provincial governments would come up in a big way to promote weightlifting. We have a very good chance of making a mark at international level in each of the mega events. What we need is proper facilities backed by special support staff.”

Nooh is now heading for Turkey to represent Pakistan at the Islamic Games.

“Islamic Games will be as tougher as the Olympics considering the fact that besides Central Asian States, Iran and Turkey’s best weightlifters will be there. Winning a medal at the Games will be like winning a medal at Olympics.”