LAHORE – History was made in Pakistan special sports as Wapda’s athlete Haider Ali won the gold medal for the country in discus throw at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games on Friday.
According to information made available here, the star special athlete wrote a new chapter in the country’s special sports by becoming the first-ever athlete to win a gold. Haider Ali achieved a 55.26 metre throw at his fifth attempt out of a total of six to score the best distance — almost 3m longer than Ukraine’s Mykola Zhabnyak who scored 52.43m to come in second place while Brazilian Joao Victor Teixeira de Souza Silva won bronze with a throw of 51.86m. Earlier, Haider had won two medals, a silver in Beijing and a Bronze in Rio in the long jump event for Pakistan. Celebrating his golden victory, Haider said the gold medal would be ‘very important’ for para-sports in Pakistan since others would be able to see what can be achieved through hard work. “I hope to be a role model for other people that have a disability [and who] don’t compete in sports to take part in para-sports,” he said.
“The training was very disturbed. It was disturbed because the facilities where we can train were closed because of Covid-19 pandemic, and we missed out on the days to train. Those were crucial days. “There were lots of challenges in training, but we kept going because we had to prepare for Tokyo.”
Haider’s quest has been to assure that the country at least gives equal coverage and support to para-athletes like they give to the Olympians. “My appeal to the government of Pakistan is that Paralympics is the biggest event in the world, and to even get here and participate here is an honour. I have even won medals for the country. But the request is that the Paralympians should get equal support, which the Olympians get, so that we can also train better, compete in a better way, give better results and make Pakistan proud. I am grateful to NPC, because of them I am where I am today.”
Punjab Sports Minister Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti said Ali had made the entire nation proud by winning the gold medal. He announced a reward of Rs2.5 million for the Olympian, saying it would be given to him by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at a ceremony upon his return.
Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) President Maj Gen (r) Muhammad Akram Sahi extended heartiest felicitation to Haider Ali for winning gold medal in the Paralympics in Tokyo. Wapda Chairman Lt Gen (Retd) Muzammil Hussain, who is also patron-in-chief of Wapda Sports Board, has congratulated Wapda athlete Haider Ali on winning the medal for Pakistan. Wapda has been patronizing sports in Pakistan for more than five decades. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry thanked the athlete for his win on Twitter. “We are proud of you,” he tweeted. “Feel immensely proud of #AliHaider for winning Pakistan a gold medal in Paralympics. The whole nation is proud of him. Heroes like Ali Haider prove everyday that our country is blessed with talent. Punjab Govt will keep supporting such talented athletes,” tweeted CM Punjab Usman Buzdar.
The United States Embassy in Islamabad also congratulated him for the win and said he was “used to creating history.” Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, Matsuda Kuninori, also congratulated Pakistan’s premier para-athlete Haider Ali, for displaying top performance by winning the gold medal in the final of Men’s Discus throw (F37) competition at the Tokyo Paralympics.
“I am truly delighted to see Pakistani athlete’s success in the Tokyo Paralympics. My sincere congratulations to Haider Ali, his family and the people of Pakistan for this amazing success to achieve the gold medal.
“I believe that you have made your country proud and won many hearts back home for your brilliant performance in the world’s mega event,” he said in a statement issued here on Friday.