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HomeSportsArshad Nadem opts out of Asiad to avoid serious injury | The...

Arshad Nadem opts out of Asiad to avoid serious injury | The Express Tribune



KARACHI:

“I just felt yesterday that I couldn’t do it anymore, there was pain, I was just unable to compete,” said Pakistan’s premier Javelin thrower and World Athletics Championship 2023 silver-medallist Arshad Nadeem as he chose to opt out of the much anticipated and hyped-up Asian Games event on October 4 in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

Arshad has been in China for over a week now; it is also the first time he has come to this country since 2019 when he was training here before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. He witnessed it first-hand as the Pakistani athletes had to evacuate in January 2020.

But unfortunately, his second visit to China has not brought any great news for well-built Arshad who was looking forward to the event set for Wednesday and for which he had trained hard in Lahore before flying out to Hangzhou.

The tall athlete from Mian Channu has been riding on a high since August this year when he created history by becoming the first Pakistani to bag a medal at the World Athletics Championships in a performance that was measured and a brilliant one and helped him book his place in the 2024 Paris Olympics besides winning him a silver medal in the final as Arshad finished second to India’s Neeraj Chopra.

It was also his international comeback, a year after creating records at the Commonwealth Games 2022, where he broke the 90-metre barrier and later excelled at the Islamic Solidarity Games as well.

But soon afterwards, Arshad had to undergo long-term treatment to his longstanding injuries in his right elbow and left knee. He went through surgeries in December last year and then spent most of the time in rehabilitation till he decided to compete at the National Games in May and picked up another injury, this time to his right knee.

However, Arshad continued to train for the World Championships despite the pain in his knee because he wanted to make history and was particularly keen to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.

To his credit, Arshad achieved his goal though he admitted while talking to this correspondent in August that he had been competing despite the pain since 2016 but braved the odds to deliver for Pakistan.

In the Asian Games this time, however, Arshad has preferred to opt out in order to avoid a serious injury which could jeopardise his participation in the Paris Games.

“I chose to opt out of the Asian Games because I don’t want to miss the Olympics, for something I have worked very hard,” said Arshad in an exclusive chat with The Express Tribune on Tuesday.

“I just don’t want this injury to become any worse,” said Arshad while talking from Hangzhou after spending the entire day taking care of his right knee and going through the MRIs.

“On October 2, I felt my knee had just started troubling me more than usual during the training session I had for bettering my technique.

“I could feel the pain as I was running up. It is not a good feeling, the pain is just preventing me from going further so I don’t want to make the same mistake as I did during the National Games. I don’t want to push myself in a way that could cause further damage to my knee and hurt my chances for Paris.

“I could feel the irritation in my knee, all these tests that I had been taking since yesterday. I am told that if I choose to compete in Asiad, it could trouble me deeply and I may need surgery. I just don’t want that.”

The 26-year-old had been more creative with his coach Salman Butt when they were training for the World Championships by working around the pain and injury. But in Hangzhou, Arshad was without his coach which is a point of concern and grossly unfair to a dedicated athlete like him.

It is quite likely that Arshad’s situation would have been completely avoidable, if his coach had been with him at the Asian Games.

“Having our coach with us makes a lot of difference,” he admitted. “I feel he would have helped me in training and my condition so much if he was here with me. Many other athletes have in other disciplines have their coaches with them but I am without my coach right now,” lamented Arshad. “Salman would know how and when to push me and guide me through it during the training sessions, so it was a key factor.”

“Access to proper coaches, physiotherapists and support staff is crucial for world-class performances.

Unfortunately, we never get that.”

 

It may be mentioned here that the UK-based orthopedic surgeon Dr Ali Bajwa treated Ashad for long-standing injuries that had plagued him even before the Tokyo Olympics, and also later with his right knee injury.

The Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) Chief Medical Officer Dr Asad Abbas is currently monitoring Arshad’s injuries and looking after his treatment.

“After arrival at Hangzhou at the first training session on 27th September 2023, Mr. Arshad Nadeem revealed and complained to Dr. Asad Abbas, who was accompanying him, that he has been grappling with persistent pain for several months, a concern that has become particularly pressing in the aftermath of the World Athletics Championship,” read a press statement issued by the POA Chef de Mission in Hangzhou.

“On 2nd October he again complained of pain in the right knee and expressed a desire to undergo an evaluation to determine the impact on his ability to participate in the Javelin Throw event at the Asian Games.”

The 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist feels it is high time for him to focus on self-care.

“I need to make sure I am healthy and fit, and I offer my namaz and am physically and spiritually in good shape,” said Arshad. “I will have to take care of my sleep, diet and that is the key for now. As soon as I am back in Pakistan, I will be focusing on taking care of my overall health and my knee.”

“We had our return scheduled for October 7 but since I am not competing anymore, I have requested an early flight home,” disclosed Arshad. “I must return as soon as possible to start on my treatment.”

 

Missing out on India-Pakistan action

Being at the Asian Games meant Arshad would have been competing with his on-field rival and off-field friend Chopra.

“Of course, I will miss competing for the top place, but I feel Allah is the best of planners. He must have something better planned for me. I hope the fans forgive me for this, and I am asking for their prayers now.

“If everything had gone well in the training sessions, I could have won the gold medal at the Asiad. I wanted to break the Asian record as well. I know the Asiad could have been a great contest,” said the 2019 South Asian Games gold-medallist.

Arshad added that he wanted to wish Chopra all the best for the event.

“I wish Neeraj bhai all the best, he is in such a great position to win the gold medal, I think even silver can go to India, for third place maybe Japan, but I know Neeraj bhai will deliver another amazing performance,” said Arshad, who will no be watching the event from the sidelines as another Pakistani athlete Muhammad Yasir will compete in the event.

Arshad’s impact on Pakistani sport since the 2018 Asian Games has been massive, to the point that just in the following edition, there is another javelin thrower from the country in a sport where even one individual would have had trouble making a mark, historically.

Yasir was trained by Arshad’s former coach and mentor, Fiaz Buhari.

“I am very happy for Yasir, and I will have a chat with him to boost his confidence,” said Arshad.

“It is heartening that last time I was competing in the Asian Games, I was here alone, and today there is another javelin thrower representing Pakistan. I am happy that I make this sport look good for Pakistani youth, that there is a pool of young javelin throwers in Pakistan now who are emerging and taking this seriously,” said Arshad.

Unfortunately, despite the precocious talent that  Arshad is, the Pakistani government, sports authorities and the federations are still unable to provide the best facilities, treatments, professionals, and even equipment for him and the others.

“The truth is we don’t have the facilities; not a single specialized facility for track and field athletes,” he repented. “I got my first proper international standard spear just last year.”

“It has only been a year that I have my spear that is of quality before this year. I competed at the Asian Games, the South Asian Games and the Olympics without ever practicing with an international standard spear,” he revealed.

“It has just been a year with this proper spear. While Allah has given us this opportunity and the talent to win medals at the global stage, we still don’t have the basic facilities and amenities required to train for these events. We don’t even have a separate ground for us to train at, no specialized gym either, but here we are,” concluded Arshad.

But despite the heavy odds, Arshad continues to hold on to his dream of winning a medal at the Paris Olympics, to break world records and immortalise his name in world sports history as the first Pakistani to achieve these amazing feats.

 

 

 

 

 





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