KARACHI: After a wait of two long days, a medal finally came Pakistan’s way in Baku.
It’s colour was bronze. But nevertheless, it was a cause of celebration for Pakistan on Friday after 48 hours of below-par performances at the Islamic Solidarity Games.
Arshad Nadeem finished third in men’s javelin to bring Pakistan’s first medal since Mohammad Shehzad Akhtar also secured bronze in the 10m air pistol final on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old, a bronze medallist at both the South Asian Games and the Asian Junior Athletics Championships last year, had a best throw of 76.33 metres which was well below his mark if 78.33 at the South Asian Games.
“Arshad’s coach Fiaz Bokhari deserves special appreciation for this performance,” Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) president retired Maj Gen Akram Sahi told Dawn on Friday.
“I was expecting an even better performance from my athletes but I’m happy the Pakistan got a slot on the podium and the nation’s flag was raised at an event which is being watched by the entire world.”
Arshad, who has undergone training in at a high-performance centre in Mauritius after being selected by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), reached his medal-clinching mark in his fourth attempt.
In his six attempts, he failed in two while throwing 69.25, 73.08 and 74.95 metres in the other three.
Qatar’s Ahmed Bader Magour took gold with a throw of 83.45 metres while Ivan Zaytsev of Uzbekistan finished runner-up with a 78.66-metre throw.
Arshad’s feat lifted Pakistan’s medals tally to six, which includes four bronze and two silver.
Pakistan could’ve won another bronze at the Olympic Stadium in the Azeri capital but Mehboob Ali finished fourth in the 400m hurdles in a race which saw African sprinters sweep the top three places.
Mozambique’s Creve Armando Machava in 50.73 seconds to secure his country’s first-ever gold at the Games, ahead of Senegalese silver medallist Amadou Ndiaye by 0.21 seconds while his compatriot Kurt Couto took bronze (50.97).
Mehboob finished in 51.15, with his team-mate Nokar Hussain finishing joint-fifth with Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Mulayhi in a personal best time of 51.29.
Nokar was later part of Pakistan’s 4x100m relay team — also featuring Liaqat Ali, Abaid Ali and Mohammad Shahbaz — which was disqualified from the final after an illegal baton exchange.
The women’s team at least did manage to finish. Sahibe Asra, Samra Shabbir, Najma Parveen and Maria Maratib ended seventh in their final with a time of 48.75 seconds.
There was victory for Pakistan’s volleyball team on Friday with Aimal Khan (24 points) and Murad Jehan (22) excelling in a 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 24-26, 25-21) win over Turkmenistan to end their Group ‘A’ campaign on a high.
Pakistan finished third in their group with two wins, the other coming against Palestine, while they lost to Turkey and hosts Azerbaijan.
The country’s basketball teams, though, couldn’t even get one victory. After being sent to the Games at the last-minute after being initially refused participation due to lack of funds, the men’s and women’s teams finished with four straight losses.
The men’s team lost to 12-19 to Turkmenistan and 13-22 to the hosts in Group ‘A’ on Friday, following their defeats to Saudi Arabia and Turkey a day earlier.
The women’s team suffered even heavier defeats, being hammered 2-21 by Turkey and 5-21 by Syria after their losses to Palestine and Indonesia on the opening day on Thursday.
The wrestlers struggled too as all four Pakistani competitors lost on Friday.
Turkey’s Nebi Uzun ousted Pakistan’s Mohammad Bilal in the 57kg freestyle quarter-finals on technical superiority while Guinea-Bissau’s Bunde Cumba beat Pakistan’s Mudassar Hussain by fall in their 65kg freestyle last-16 clash.
Pakistan’s Mohammad Asad Butt lost out to Turkey’s Soner Demirtas in the 74kg freestyle last-16 round and his compatriot Umair Tariq was no match for Iran’s Amir Mohammadi in their 97kg freestyle quarter-final.
Pakistan didn’t fare any better on the tennis courts with Sarah Mahboob losing out to Turkey’s Berfu Cengiz 6-0, 6-0 in their women’s singles second-round match while Sara Mansoor and Meheq Khokhar fell to Malaysia’s Jawairiah Noordin and Theiviya Selva-Rajoo 6-4, 6-0 in the women’s doubles quarter-finals.