LAHORE: Squads of shooting, table tennis and boxing, half of them, left for Hangzhou, China, on Tuesday to feature in the 19th Asian Games.
Shooting is a major hope for Pakistan in the Asian Games. Although Pakistan is yet to win a medal in shooting in the Asian Games history the way the national marksmen have been pulling off surprises at various stages it gives some hope of a medal to the nation in this discipline in the quadrennial spectacle.
“Look, Ghulam Mustafa Bashir has won bronze in the World Championship and has also qualified for the Olympics. He is a major hope. Then Kishmala Talat is another hope. She narrowly missed the World Championship final and so is Gulfam Joseph who has also qualified for the Olympics,” Razi Ahmed Khan, a senior official of the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP), told The News.
Razi is also part of the technical committee which will be delivering its services during the Asian Games shooting event and he will be going to Hangzhou on September 22.
“Usman Chand also has a chance but his event is tough as the world’s top shooters belong to Asia but the way Usman is preparing he has a chance to move to the finals,” Razi said.
“We have these four shooters who can become medal winners in the Asian Games,” he was quick to add.
“Whatever we could do for the shooters’ preparation for this event we have done. We are satisfied with our athletes’ preparations and obviously Asian Games are always tough because this belt also carries world and Olympic champions. China itself is very strong and so is India. Korea and Japan are also strong but I am hopeful that we will be able to get a medal,” Razi said.
Meanwhile, boxers Zohaib Rasheed and Mohammad Qasim and their coach Arshad Hussain left for Hangzhou. Fatima Zehra, Ibrahim and manager Major (retd) Mehmood Riaz will leave on Wednesday (today).
Pakistan’s premier boxer and Asian bronze medallist Zohaib was optimistic about his chances in the Asian Games.
“Yes, this time I have a chance,” Zohaib told The News before flying out of Islamabad for Hangzhou.
“I have worked hard and if I get good draws then I hope I have a chance to win a medal,” Zohaib said.
Coach Arshad was also hopeful about his charges’ chances.
“We have worked extremely hard and I hope we will pull off surprises in the Asian Games,” he told this correspondent from Islamabad Airport.
The Asian Games is an Olympic qualifying round for boxing.
Five table tennis players and two officials also moved to China. A Pakistan Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) official told The News that they held a camp in Lahore under Irfanullah while the girls were undergoing training in Karachi.
“The girls had a busy schedule as they also went to South Africa and then to Bangkok and now proceeded to China this morning,” PTTF official Kifayatullah told this correspondent.
“Our female lot is good and I hope they will pull off some wins,” Kifayat said.