Arshad Nadeem and Nooh Dastagir won Gold. But did Pakistan perform well at Commonwealth Games 2022?

Commonwealth Games 2022 has ended with Australia winning the top position with 67 gold medals, followed by England and Canada, respectively. Though Pakistani athlete Arshad Nadeem and weightlifter Nooh Dastagir Butt created history by winning gold medals in javelin throw and weight lifting, Pakistan stood at the 18th spot among 72 countries.

In their 14th appearance in the Commonwealth Games, Pakistan participated in 12 events and secured positions in only four events.

In the track and road event, Shajar Abbas represented Pakistan. He qualified for the finals in the 200-meter heat but stood in the last position. Jamshad Ali participated in shot-put and barely secured 11th rank. A similar situation occurred in other events. Aneela Gulzar stood last in the 100-meter women’s track and road event, and Anila Baig secured 10th position in the discus throw.

Murad Ali, M.Irfan Saeed Bhatti, Mahoor Shehzad, and Ghazala Siddique couldn’t even reach the quarter-final in any badminton event. The team also remained in the last spot in the mixed team event, losing to Australia, India, and Sri Lanka.

At the boxing event, only Ilyas Hussain reached the quarter-final stage. Suleman Baloch lost at the round of 32. Nazeer Ullah Khan and Mehreen Baloch (in the women’s event) had a short-lived journey till the round of 16.

The women’s cricket team again showed terrible performance under captain Bismah Maroof as they started the event with a loss against first-time participators Barbados by 15 runs. They continued the losing streak against India and Australia. India outclassed Pakistan by eight wickets while Australia comfortably won by 44 runs.

Once a champion in hockey, Pakistan showed pathetic performance on the ground and secured 7th position. Pakistan hockey team lost to New Zealand by 4-1 and Australia by 7-0. The national team played a draw against South Africa and only won against Scotland and Canada.

National squash players Tayyab Aslam, Nasir Iqbal, Amna Fayyaz and Faiza Zafar failed to rejuvenate the past glory of Pakistan in squash. Nasir Iqbal was the only player to qualify for the round of 16. In table tennis, Fahad Khuwaja lost in the round of 32.

The first good news from Commonwealth Games for Pakistan came in the Judo arena. Shah Hussain Shah won a bronze medal in the 90kg category by thrashing Thomas-Laszlo Breytenbach of South Africa. But Qaisar Khan lost in the first round.

The swimming event also brought disappointment to Pakistan. Haseeb Tariq, Bisma Khan, Jehanara Nabi, and Mishael Ayub didn’t come near the top 10 athletes.

However, the weightlifting, wrestling and javelin throw produced positive news for Pakistan. Nooh Dastagir Butt opened the gold medal account in the 109+ kg event by lifting 405 kg. Sharif Tahir, M.Inam Butt, and Zaman Anwar won silver in wrestling, while Ali Asad and Inayat Ullah won bronze. Arshad Nadeem became the first South-Asian javelin thrower to cross the 90-meter mark and won a gold in athletics after 56 years.

The poor performance of national athletes should not surprise anyone as they all have sub-standard facilities and mostly train on their own. Anila Baig, the disc thrower, works in a factory for just Rs 17,000 and had to sacrifice one-month pay to participate in the Commonwealth games. Sources told that she did not have a professional disc to practice. Boxer Mahreen Baloch does not have a qualified coach. Even the national hero, Arshad Nadeem, had no coach in the event.

The government and army should take the matter as serious as they head to elections. They should take inspiration from India, which won 22 gold medals. The top civil and military leadership have to intervene, allocate a budget for sports, and at least end the politics from the sports department.

Pakistan secured 18th rank and bagged only eight medals with mere two golds. In 12 events, the national athletes had a terrible outing in eight events just because of the negligence of top authorities.

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