“I am aware of the expectations and the hopes of the people back in Pakistan. I think that is putting a little more pressure than the competition, but I know what my target is, and that is a medal. I don’t care much about anything else at the moment. I want to walk out of this place with my head held high,” Arshad Nadeem displays, as he will likely be stepping into to make historical past for Pakistan in athletics’ javelin throw occasion on August four in Tokyo.
The athlete, primarily based in Mian Chunnu, Khanewal is a miracle story — the type that possibly a rustic like Pakistan doesn’t deserve, the place athletes, who will not be cricketers, are thought-about unhealthy funding. But regardless of the shortage of sponsorships and alternatives, Arshad made a mark.
In reality, Arshad’s bronze medal within the 2018 Asian Games was a shock to all. Then his subsequent feat of instantly qualifying for the Olympics with an 86.29m throw in Nepal was the primary time any Pakistani athlete certified instantly for the Olympics observe and discipline occasion.
He is the final athlete vying for a medal for Pakistan on the Tokyo Olympics, hoping to get a medal, and break the nation’s 45-year-old metal-drought within the Games. Pakistan took their final medal within the 1976 Olympics, the Barcelona Games.
“I am training in Tokyo too, in the morning and afternoon, and I know there is going to be tough competition,” Arshad instructed The Express Tribune, as he shared that he’s positioned in Group B of the javelin throw qualification spherical that may happen on August four after which the ultimate on August 5. “My goal is to get the medal. My goal is to get into the final. The Group B is looking tough. Every thrower wants only one thing and that is to get through. I want return home with my head held high. I want to make my nation proud. That is what I am thinking about. I just need to do the best I am capable of here in Tokyo.”
Arshad’s jouney to Tokyo has been a protracted one. He contracted Covid-19 in May whereas coaching in Turkey with Kazakhstan’s former worldwide javelin thrower and now coach Viktor Yevsyukov.
He made his worldwide comeback after the 2019 South Asian Games efficiency in April on the Mashhad Imam Reza Athletics Tournament in Iran, the place he bettered his private greatest and created a brand new nationwide document, throwing a distance of 86.38m.
He admitted earlier than that he had struggled to maintain himself motivated in his village and returned to coaching earlier this yr, along with his mentor and coach Fiaz Bokahri, to shed the load he had gained all through 2020.
“Mental toughness is the key for me and then adaptability. I just focused on that. It had been such a tough road,” mentioned Arshad.
Arshad mentioned that the one Olympic occasion he watched whereas being on the village was of his fellow observe and discipline athlete Najma Parveen, however the remainder of the time he saved his give attention to the coaching and following the strict rules he knew he wants to stick to within the pandemic-delayed Games. Parveen ran within the 200m occasion on August 2 and got here final within the seven-person warmth to qualify for the occasion finals.
Athletics over cricket
Arshad performed province-level cricket and he feels that whereas he was profitable as a teen in cricket, he doesn’t remorse quitting the nation’s hottest sport for one thing as acquired of a sport as javelin throw.
“My older brother played cricket. Then my other brother played football and he was into shot put too. But I took up javelin throw because I knew cricket involved too much. I know I couldn’t have survived because there is so much politics there, so javelin throw was something I liked. It suits my height,” mentioned Arshad.
He reveals his cricketing heroes had been former all-rounder Abdul Razzaq and former pacer Shoaib Akhtar.
“I was a good bowler, although I was an all-rounder, but bowling was great because I was tall and it worked,” mentioned Arshad. “Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Akhtar used to be my heroes back then. I admired their game so much growing up.”
But the teen and the daddy of two – a bit of boy and his daughter – whom he a lot adores, feels that he has been obtained properly on this planet of athletics. He has made mates with worldwide javelin throwers and bonds properly with the Indian athletes too. “We see each other on tour,” says Arshad whereas speaking about Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra.
“Then there’s Shivpal [Singh] as well and this is all good company,” mentioned Arshad, as Shivpal will likely be competing for a spot within the last in the identical group because the Pakistani javelin thrower on Wednesday.