KARACHI: Pakistan’s wrestling squad failed to proceed to Iran to feature in the 38th Takhti Cup International Freestyle Wrestling Tournament as the organisers did not send tickets to the touring party which had earlier been promised.
A senior official of Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF) told ‘The International News’ on Wednesday that the organisers did not send tickets which forced them to withdraw from the two-day event scheduled to begin in Tabriz, the capital city of East Azerbaijan province of Iran, from Thursday (today).
“Iran Wrestling Federation (IWF) told us that its policy has changed and it would only provide us with accommodation and food facilities during our stay in Iran for the tournament,” the PWF secretary Arshad Sattar said.
He said he did not know why it happened, adding Pakistan had written to the IWF that it would want its wrestlers to stay for a month after the event for training.“Maybe, the organisers have changed their minds as we wanted to stay there and had requested for the purpose,” the official observed.
“Following the development, there was no option for us but to withdraw as we also did not have support from the government at home,” Arshad conceded.It was a golden opportunity for the leading grapplers to do some practice ahead of the Commonwealth Games slated to be held in Gold Coast, Australia, from April 4-15.
However, Arshad has a ‘Plan B’ also. “We have another plan. We want to send the six wrestlers who have been selected for the Commonwealth Games to Turkey to train there for the whole month of March,” he revealed.
“We have already contacted Turkey Wrestling Federation for the purpose and hopefully we will be able to arrange the tour as it would be of immense importance for our grapplers ahead of the Australia tour,” Arshad conceded.
The missed tour of Iran has also saddened Pakistan’s ace grappler and the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mohammad Inam.“It’s unfortunate,” Inam told this correspondent. “Our federation now plans to send us to Turkey and if it was done it would really help us in our preparation for the Commonwealth Games,” said Inam, who last year also lifted gold in the World Beach Wrestling Championship in Turkey.
Having stayed at home for over a month after lifting one silver and ten bronze medals in the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships held in Johannesburg, South Africa last December, national wrestlers had begun their training at the PSB Coaching Centre Lahore for the Commonwealth Games a couple of days ago.
The PWF held trials on January 30 and 31 in Lahore and have finalised a six-member side for the Commonwealth Games. Mohammad Bilal (57kg), Abdul Wahab (65kg), Asad Butt (74kg), Mohammad Inam (86kg), Umair Ahmed (97kg) and Tayyab Raza (125kg) will be part of the touring party. All of these grapplers are highly experienced and have won medals at the Commonwealth level.
In the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Pakistan claimed one silver and one bronze in wrestling. An 89-member contingent of Pakistan is expected to be fielded in ten disciplines in the Commonwealth Games.