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Ikram, Maria may represent Pakistan in Rio

Ikram, Maria may represent Pakistan in Rio

Nadeem fourth in IAAF world rankings for under-20 athletes

KARACHI: Experienced 800m specialist Mohammad Ikram and 100m hurdles specialist Maria Maratab are likely to represent Pakistan through wild cards in the athletics competitions at this year’s Rio Olympics.

The tentative entries of these athletes have been sent by the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) to the IAAF, the international athletics governing body, ‘The News’ reliably learnt on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the country’s emerging javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem has achieved fourth position in the IAAF world rankings for under 20 athletes news which must be difficult to believe for people in Pakistan.

Ikram (WAPDA) and Maria (Army) are almost certain to become Olympians. Ikram, who plays for WAPDA, has been representing Pakistan in international circuit for several years.

He is in good form and recently grabbed silver medal in the 800m competitions in the 12th South Asian Games in India.

Ikram was also part of Pakistan’s 4X400m relay bronze winning team.

Maria, 25, has been creating ripples in different events at the national level but specialises in 100m hurdles.

The Kabirwala-born Maria, who is set to take part in National Athletics Championship in Quetta from Monday, is doing MSc in Sports Sciences at Sarhad University, Multan.

The athlete has stopped studying and will resume it after appearing in Olympics.

Maria shot to fame at the domestic level when she won three gold medals in 400m hurdles, 400m and 4X400m relay — in the 2012 National Athletics Championship. She grabbed three more gold medals, including two in 100m and 100m hurdles in the 2013 National Athletics Championship. In 2013, she made her international debut at the Asian Athletics Championship in Pune, India, in which she finished fourth in 100m hurdles.

At the South Asian Games recently, Maria failed to earn any medal.

Liaquat Ali and Rabia Ashiq represented Pakistan in the 2012 London Olympics.

Those nations are given wild card entries whose athletes are unable to qualify.

So far not a single Pakistani player has qualified for Rio Olympics and it seems that the country will only field its athletes through wild card entries.

Pakistan will also get wild card entries in swimming and shooting. Pakistan has failed to qualify for Rio Games in hockey for the first time in history.

Nadeem from WAPDA took bronze medal in the South Asian Games at Guwahati on February 10 by recording 78.33m in javelin throw slots.

Nadeem’s feat in India indicates his amazing talent. “Nadeem is highly talented and we will try our best to groom him. He can turn out to be the future star of Pakistan at the international level,” AFP President Maj Gen (retd) Akram Sahi told ‘The News’ on Wednesday.

“We also have three youngsters within the 10.78 timing in 100m. Young Mohammad Afzal is another highly competent triple jumper who can win medals at the Asian level,” said Sahi, a former international athlete.

Afzal, from Army, won gold in triple jump in the Asian Youth Athletics Championship in Qatar last year.

“Athletics future is not bad. We are working on juniors and there will be good results soon,” Sahi claimed.

He added that Pakistan would feature in the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Vietnam from June 3-6.

Courtesy : TheNews



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