GILGIT: Two skiers from Pakistan, Mohammad Karim and Syed Haman Shah who both hail from the Naltar valley of Gilgit Baltistan have qualified for the Winter Olympics 2018, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea from Feb 9-25, the Ski Federation of Pakistan announced on Monday.
More than 40 countries are participating in the Winter Olympics.
“This is a historical moment for Pakistan as our two skiers have qualified for three slots in the upcoming Winter Games in South Korea,” a delighted Secretary General SFP Air Commodore Shahid Nadeem told Dawn on Monday. “Both the skiers have done a marvellous job in the process of qualification for Olympics.”
Olympian Karim, who also represented Pakistan in the Sochi Winter Games 2014, will be competing in the slalom and giant slalom categories while Haman, 26, shall represent Pakistan in the cross country category.
This is the first time when two Pakistani skiers have qualified for the Winter Olympics.
In the year 2000, the first Pakistani skier to get the honour was Mohammad Abbas who competed in the slalom category in the Vancouver Winter Games. Then it was Karim in the Sochi Games in 2014.
“I am really delighted to represent Pakistan once again,” said Karim. “I have been getting good training from top coaches both inside and outside the country with tremendous support from the Pakistan Air Force and SFP and therefore I am much more confident about doing well at the Pyeongchang Games.”
Haman, who is Karim’s nephew, has been representing Pakistan Army since 2009. He has also gone through extensive training and coaching with the help PAF and SFP in Turkey and the Czech Rpublic and hopes to excel in the Games next month.
“I am fit and in form to meet my opponents in South Korea,” said Haman. “Inshallah I will do my best to keep the country’s flag flying in the Olympics.”
Top coach Group Captain (rtd) Zahid Hussain and Air Cmmodore (rtd) Sohail are also very confident about the performance of the two skiers in the Games. “This is indeed a great achievement of Pakistan to send two skiers in three categories for the first time in the history of winter sport here,” said Zahid.
“The SFP has been trying very hard to promote the winter sports in Pakistan and with the number of skiers and fine facilities here, we will soon be among the top winter sports country in the region,” said Sohail.
“For the cross country competition we must give credit to SFP secretary general Shahid for getting the two skiers the best possible training in Czech Republic and in Turkey,” they said.
Meanwhile, media advisor SFP Obaidur Rehman Abbasi informed that the two skiers will be leaving for South Korea in the first week of February.