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Winning medals without support

Pakistan’s premier wrestler, Mohammad Inam, has been winning medals at major international events but he has never got the support at home that he truly deserves

Winning medals  without support

The country’s premier wrestler Mohammad Inam on October 14 proved that he is the undisputed king in beach wrestling when he won gold in the World Beach Games in Doha. The Gujranwala-born WAPDA grappler defeated Olympic bronze medallist Marsagishvili Dato of Georgia in the 90 kilogramme competitions final 5-2.

It was indeed a superb comeback victory as Inam overcame the 0-2 deficit to emerge victorious in style.

Dato is one of the finest wrestlers and is adept in mat wrestling. He has to his credit bronze medals in 2011 Istanbul World Championships and 2012 London Olympics. But it was very difficult for him to overcome Inam, an expert of beach wrestling.

Inam had also defeated Dato in the group stage in a gripping fight. Inam was off to a flying start when he defeated Andrade Da Silver Adao of Portugal 3-0 in the first round. He then downed Marsagishvili Dato of Georgia in his second fight before edging past Ozkan Murat of Turkey 1-0. He defeated Azerbaijan’s Kanan Aliyev 3-1 before overcoming Garcia Perez Pedro Jacinto of Spain 3-0 in the semi-finals.

This is the third time in three years that Inam has claimed the global title in beach wrestling. He also won the 2017 and 2018 World Beach Wrestling Championships.

A few months ago, Inam finished with a silver medal in the Beach Wrestling World Series in Brazil to earn seat in the World Beach Games. It was expected that the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist would feature in a few more World Series events but he could not do so due to financial and fitness issues.

He battled a knee injury before the World Beach Games. However, he not only overcame it but also trained hard, mainly on his own before joining the 20-day official camp Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) held for him at Lahore. Three other wrestlers had been put up with him in the camp.

Inam, also the gold medallist of the 2016 Vietnam Asian Beach Games, has always been found fighting against the odds, never bowing down. I have seen him making his way through tough times.

But the question arises why Inam has so far failed to compete in Olympics. And it is a tough question. Asia is a tough continent as most of the Olympics and world champions belong to this part of the world.

The developed wrestling world invests millions of dollars in their wrestlers to prepare them for Olympics.

During my career as a journalist I have never seen Pakistan’s sports authorities making any such effort to ensure the presence of their leading athletes in the Olympics. Everything in sports here is done on adhoc basis. How can our athletes qualify for Olympics when they can’t even take part in mandatory international events due to financial issues?

It is a hard fact that we have wasted talent like Inam. Had he been living in any other sports-loving country he would certainly have won medals in Olympics, World Championships and Asian Championships. The biggest issue in Pakistan is that everyone tries to take credit when our athletes win any major medal. But when he is struggling nobody bothers to back him. It is a pity that an athlete like Inam has no major sponsor from the corporate sector. Inam is the biggest brand in Pakistan’s sports but we don’t know how to take benefit of him. When he won the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold the state should have kept him under its wings and invested in him which could have fetched numerous medals for the country during the last nine years.

Our cricketers also go to Twitter and congratulate Inam and others. If they do want to help the country’s super stars in other sports they will have to take practical steps. Mere writing a few words of congratulations won’t benefit our heroes.

Former cricketer Shoaib Akhtar rushed to the support of Pakistan’s professional boxer Mohammad Waseem when he knocked-out Conrado Tenamor of the Philippines in the super flyweight ranking fight in Dubai last month.

Shoaib arranged a manager to manage sponsorship for the Quetta-born boxer. Waseem, former world No1, spent a few days with Shoaib. He has also promised to witness Waseem’s next fight in Dubai on November 22. I appreciate Shoaib’s help to Waseem, who also won numerous medals for the country during his amateur career.

Former Indian cricketers have been seen financially supporting India’s medal-winning sportspersons and some have even gifted luxury vehicles to some players for winning medals in Olympics. Although it is not the duty of cricketers to support athletes of other sports, it will be a great service if they back them. Otherwise, their careers are being ruined.

It is time the state, corporate sector and his parent department WAPDA gave cash prizes to Inam who can play for a few more years.


Alam Zeb Safi

Alam Zeb copy
The writer is a sports reporter at The News International. He may be reached at [email protected]

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