Pakistan boxers to leave for last Olympics qualifiers today
ISLAMABAD—A seven-member Pakistan boxing outfit will depart for Baku, Azerbaijan from Islamabad Airport on Monday night to feature in the last world qualifying round for this summer’s Olympics. “This is the only remaining chance for our pugilists to book a place in Olympics,” Secretary Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) Iqbal Hussain told APP on Sunday.Boxers from around the world will chip in these qualifiers, scheduled to be held from June 16 to 25.
Iqbal sounded optimistic that at least a couple of Pakistani boxers would be able to make a cut to the Rio. “All our boxers are in good shape. They’ve undergone tough training at a camp at Pakistan Sport Complex Islamabad. I’m sure the nation will soon hear good news,” Iqbal added.
The PBF had set up an intensive training programme for 20 boxers at the camp under national boxing coach Arshad Hussain, an AIBA three-star coach. Arshad was assisted by former international and AIBA onestar coach Nisar Khan. However, finally seven boxers from different weight categories were selected to represent the country at these qualifiers.
Those vying in the event to fulfill their Olympic dream include, Awais Ali Khan (81kg), Mohammad Tanveer (75kg), Amir Khan (69kg), US-born Umar Cheema (64kg), Ali Ahmed (60kg), Niamatullah (56kg) and Mohammad Asif (52kg).
If any Pakistani boxer qualifies for Rio Olympics it will be after a gap of 12 years that the country will have representation in boxing at the world’s most prestigious multisports event. Pakistan’s last appearance at Olympics in boxing was in 2004, when in Athens five Pakistani boxers featured in various weight categories. However, none of them could even advance to the quarterfinal stage. Syed Hussain Shah won a bronze medal for Pakistan in boxing in the middleweight division (71 - 75 kg) at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Till to date, he is one of the only two individual Olympic medallists for the country.—APP