KARACHI: Wrestling is considered the sport in which Pakistan can achieve the best results at the Commonwealth Games to be held in Gold Coast, Australia, in April this year.
But so far national camp has not been launched, which has left the country’s top grapplers in a fix.The wrestlers of India, the hot favourites, are training in Georgia and their authorities have planned to set up a couple of months camp in the United States before going to Australia.
Australian wrestlers have been in a camp for the last one year. Canadian wrestlers have been training for the last four months. The grapplers of England, the second best wrestling nation in the Commonwealth, are also intensively training.
But it has been learnt that Pakistan, which is a real threat even to India, is yet to begin proper training due to lack of money with the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) which last year spent millions on the Inter-Provincial Games.
This correspondent has learnt that since returning from South Africa where they won one silver and ten bronze medals at the Commonwealth Championship in Johannesburg in December last year, the national grapplers have been training on their own.
“There has not been a camp since the wrestlers returned from Johannesburg,” a source told ‘The International News’ on Thursday.
“The wrestlers have the potential to win medals in Australia but if this situation continues, Pakistan’s chances in the Commonwealth Games may be hurt,” the source said.The wrestlers will proceed to Iran next week to feature in the 38th Takhti Cup International Freestyle Wrestling Tournament which will be held in Tabriz, the capital city of East Azerbaijan province, from February 8-9.
As many as 16 countries have registered for the event. It has been learnt that all the touring sides will be financially supported by Iran Wrestling Federation (IWF).
The cup is named after Gholamreza Takhti (1930-1968) who was an Olympic gold medalist wrestler and Varzesh-e Bastani (traditional sport) practitioner, popularly nickna0smed Jahan Pahlevan (world champion).He was the most popular athlete in Iran in the 20th century. Although dozens of Iranian athletes have won international medals after him but Takhti remains the biggest hero.
He is listed in the world wrestling governing body’s (FILA) Hall of Fame.‘The International News’ has learnt that it was expected that the national wrestlers would stay in Iran for one month to train for Commonwealth Games but that is yet to be finalised. A source said that only a ten-day stay in Iran after the Takhti Cup has been confirmed.
A senior PSB official told this correspondent in December last year that the Board was sending the wrestling side to Iran for one-month training. But sources said that the Board was yet to act.
It has also been learnt that wrestlers have approached a senior official of PWF and told him that stay in Iran for training was imperative. “The wrestlers have told the PWF that they would contribute money from their own pockets for the stay in Iran,” a source close to the development said.
This correspondent tried to contact the PSB top officials and federal minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Riaz Pirzada but they did not receive the calls.
The PWF held trials on January 30 and 31 at Lahore and finalised a six-member side for the Commonwealth Games. The ones selected are Mohammad Bilal (57kg), Abdul Wahab (65kg), Asad Butt (74kg), the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mohammad Inam (86kg), Umair Ahmed (97kg) and Tayyab Raza (125kg). All of these grapplers have loads of experience 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 field in ten disciplines in the Commonwealth Games to be held from April 4-15.