From Alam Zeb Safi
BIRMINGHAM: Having claimed a weightlifting gold and judo bronze, Pakistan is expected to secure some more medals as national wrestlers will start their Commonwealth Games journey here at the Coventry Arena on Friday (today).
The country’s premier wrestler and defending champion Mohammad Inam (86kg), Youth Olympics bronze medallist Inayatullah (65kg) and heavyweight grappler Zaman Anwar (125kg) will vie for medals in what could be gruelling contests to be held on Friday (today).
India and Canada are fielding packs of fine wrestlers but Pakistan also has boys with killer instincts who can do anything on a given day. However, it also will depend on draws. If strong India, Pakistan and Canada are drafted in one group then Pakistan may face problems.
The draws were scheduled to be held on Thursday at 9pm PST and the bodyweight will be held on Friday (today) at 11am PST.
National wrestlers were scheduled to undergo training at 11pm PST Thursday.
As it will be a two-day event so on Saturday (tomorrow), rookie Ali Asad (57kg), Mohammad Sharif Tahir (74kg) and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Tayyab Raza will press for medals.
India’s Olympics silver medallist and three-time Asian champion Ravi Kumar Dahiya (57kg), the 2019 Nur Sultan World Championship silver medallist and the 2019 World Junior Championship gold medallist Deepak Punia (86kg) and the Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia are also there in the strong India pack.
And, indeed, in these weights Pakistani wrestlers will have to do something extraordinary. Their coach Ghulam Fareed is confident about Pakistan’s chances.
“InshaAllah we expect something better from our boys,” Fareed told ‘The News’ here on Thursday.
“Our wrestlers are ready for the challenge. We had good training here for the last few days and the weather was ideal and it helped grapplers train very well,” Fareed said.
“We had come all the way here while having trained in hot conditions in Pakistan. Coming here a few days before the fights was a plus. I hope we can do our best.”
Wrestling has been the most potential medal-winning sport of Pakistan in the Commonwealth Games. Since the 1954 Vancour Commonwealth Games Pakistan has so far claimed 17 gold, ten silvers and nine bronze in the quadrennial event. Pakistan’s most impressive event in wrestling was the 1962 Perth Commonwealth Games where national grapplers secured seven gold and one silver.
The current six-man pack mostly trained at home. They were aiming to go to Iran for training but it could not happen. Besides all these issues a senior official of Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF) also expects medals from all six boys.
“InshaAllah all six will earn medals,” PWF vice-president Arshad Sattar told 'The News'.
Arshad is here in Birmingham, acting as an administrative officer of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) but is keenly looking after his brigade also.
“Yes, Indians are tough but our trio of Inam, Inayat and Sharif Tahir will put Indians in trouble,” Arshad hoped.
“In the super heavyweight Canada is the best, even from India, and it will depend on draws,” he said.
It will be a testing time for Inam as he will defend the title. Having won gold in the Gold Coast in 2018, Inam is keen to defend the title. It will be his third gold in his Commonwealth Games career if he is able to win the final this time. He had also secured gold for the country in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India.
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