Newly re-elected President of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), Arif Hasan, does not have high hopes for his countryâ€™s medal aspirations in the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics taking place in London. Hasan gave an exclusive interview to Dawn News.
â€œOnly the hockey team has sealed its berth, our athletes and boxers have failed to impress in the qualifiers and by the end of next month we will have a clear picture of how many actually qualified. At this juncture we are only relying on wild card entries which means there is almost no hope of a medal,â€ Hasan explained to Dawn News.
According to Hasan, Pakistan finds itself in this situation not because of a lack of talent but due to the lack of infrastructure which eventually runs to ground even the most promising athletes. â€œI feel there is talent in the country, but the question remains what are we to do with the talent? Unless there is proper coaching and guidance and foreign exposure, we simply cannot compete in major competitions.â€
Hasan clarified that contrary to popular belief, the Olympic Association only facilitated the participation of athletes who had sealed their berths at the Olympics. According to him, the POA did not have the resources to organize training camps which was at the sole discretion of the federation of the respective sport. â€œWe have a meager budget. Most of it is consumed in administrative tasks. There is hardly any money left for the promotion of sports and we lag behind even in the region. India, for example, spends millions more for various sports besides the mainstream ones,â€ Hasan stated.
He added that concrete steps had to be taken immediately for Pakistan to have any hopes of an improved show in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Hasan said the likes of Asian Karate Champion Saadi Abbas had it in them to excel at the global level, but proper coaching and development under the supervision of experts was a dire need.
In Pakistanâ€™s 65 years of existence, it has managed only two individual medals at the Olympics. Even hockey, traditionally the strongest suit for Pakistan, last brought a medal in 1992. Outside of hockey, only boxing has remained a realistic hope of a medal for Pakistan over the years, yet no Pakistani boxer has qualified thus far for the games which start in July. And Pakistanâ€™s boxing hopes were especially dashed when Haroon Khan, brother of international boxing sensation Amir Khan, was ruled ineligible to fight for Pakistan due to his British citizenship.