KARACHI: Sailing star and international medal winner Muhammad Akram believes that Pakistan can qualify for the International Sailing Federation’s Nations Cup in Russia this year.
The six-member team, which includes manager Khalid Hussian, will be leaving to compete at the qualifiers for the Nations Cup on April 20 in Zallaq, Bahrain, where they will take on their Asian competitors in the J-24 class boat category.
“I believe we can qualify for the main round in Russia which will take place later this year,” Akram, who won a gold medal earlier this year in Doha, told The Express Tribune. “We will be competing in the J-24 boat where the maximum number of sailors in one boat can be five, with a weight limit of 350kg.
“We’ve chosen the best sailors; all of us are experienced at the sea. We are hoping to qualify for the Nations Cup like Pakistan did in 2011.”
However, the gold medallist said that competing against the continent’s best sailors will be tough. “No team is weaker than us and our main competitors are Korea, Japan and Singapore. We can’t say anything more at the moment though, we’ll find out once we reach Bahrain what the situation is like,” said Akram.
He said that the team, comprising Abdul Hameed, Muzammil Hassan, Najeebullah and Qasim, besides him, will get a day to practice before the event begins on April 24.
Akram added that the athletes practiced for at least six hours in the open sea in Karachi and had a strict gym programme to assure fitness ahead the competition. “We have to be careful, if the wind is more than 20 nautical miles per hour, it can get dangerous, but I’m glad my all of my teammates are training well.”