RIO DE JANEIRO – Pakistan’s small seven member team heading to Brazil for the Rio Olympics gives a glimpse of how far sports have declined in a country that once stood out on the global stage.
While Pakistan may have bagged a World Cup in both cricket and hockey, its Olympics medal tally stands at a paltry 10 medals due to numerous factors, including the allocation of funds.
Currently, Pakistan has eight medals in field hockey and only two individual honors.
However, the Pakistan Hockey – the most successful group of athletes in the country’s Olympics history – has embarrassingly failed to qualify for this year’s Olympics, making it the first time since they had failed to qualify for the global sporting event since their maiden appearance in the 1948 London Games.
A continental quota helped three Pakistani athletes — shooters Ghulam Mustafa Bashir, Minhal Sohail and judoka Shah Hussain in making their way to Brazil. Four wild card entries were taken up by swimmers Liana Swan and Harris Banday, and athletes Mehboob Ali and Najma Parveen.
Observers are of the view that the seven member team will merely represent the country as a formality and pinning hopes on any member of the team would be jumping the gun.
If we look at the funds allocated for sports, the situation is not as bad as our athletes’ performance suggest. Punjab, the country’s most populous province, allocated $50 million in its sports budget for 2016-17, while Khyber Pakthunkhwa, historically home to many of Pakistan’s best athletes, set aside $17 million.
“Funds not reaching deserving athletes and to the sport which has the potential of winning a medal is the most unfortunate thing,” said Ehsan Qureshi, a seasoned sports journalist.
Mohammad Inam, a gold medal winner at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, also expressed his views on the state of sports in the country.
“We need to invest a lot of money if we want to win a medal in Olympics, You can’t win on mere training, you need to compete in various competitions and through that your standard is raised. he asserted.