olympics
Chaos and turmoil at home and Pakistan hockey has its worst Olympics ever
Spectators were shocked on the morning of July 22 when Pakistan lost to Spain 3-0. The simple analysis of this match is that Pakistan could not measure up to the zeal and vitality of the Spaniards who took a quick 2-0 lead and never looked back
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
Pakistan's preparations for the hockey competition at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta received a huge setback a few months prior to the mega event, when the captain Shahbaz Ahmed led a players' 'revolt' and was finally dropped from the 16-member squad bound for the Olympiad. He along with twenty-three other players had refused to appear in the national trials in Karachi for selection of the Pakistan team for the two four-nation competitions to be played in England and Holland.

olympics
Pakistan will be represented at Beijing Olympiad by a lone marksman
In the regional South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, which are now simply known as the South Asian Games, the shooters from Pakistan have pocketed a good number of medals. The standard of these Games, however, may not be upto the topmost international level. Yet, a tally of 69 medals including nine gold is nothing to be disrespectful about
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
Pakistan will be represented at Beijing 2008 for the third time in a row in the Olympic Games shooting event. Mohammad Siddiq Umar, a marksmen specialising in rifle shooting has been awarded a wild card entry into the Olympiad. In the same manner, the country's celebrated skeet shooter Khurram Inam took part in the previous two Olympic Games -- at Sydney 2000 and Athen 2004, but he returned home after having registered rather disastrous results.

 

olympics
Chaos and turmoil at home and Pakistan hockey has its worst Olympics ever

By Gul Hameed Bhatti

Pakistan's preparations for the hockey competition at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta received a huge setback a few months prior to the mega event, when the captain Shahbaz Ahmed led a players' 'revolt' and was finally dropped from the 16-member squad bound for the Olympiad. He along with twenty-three other players had refused to appear in the national trials in Karachi for selection of the Pakistan team for the two four-nation competitions to be played in England and Holland.

Shahbaz, who had captained Pakistan at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona where the team under him won the bronze medal, eventually volunteered to play for the outfit in Atlanta unconditionally. The team, however, appeared visibly unsettled in the aftermath of the pre-Atlanta turmoil and finished at its worst position ever in an Olympiad -- sixth out of 12 teams.

Shahbaz Ahmad had led the Pakistan team to victory in the sixth World Cup competition at Sydney and the Champions Trophy at Lahore in 1994. He was replaced by Mohammad Nadeem, who had been specially flown to Holland for the second four-nation tournament along with Mohammad Asif Khan on the request of manager Samiullah to reinforce the Pakistan team badly beaten in the first tournament at Milton Keynes in England.

A press release issued by Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Col Mudassar Asghar said: "The national selectors (Akhtar Rasool and Mir Zafarullah Jamali) touring with the national hockey team on its twin four-nation tournaments after detailed discussions with manager Samiullah and coach Jahangir Butt have decided the 16-member hockey team for the Olympics. Player Mohammad Nadeem was included after thorough discussions as player Shahbaz Ahmad had declined at the last minute to accompany the team on the tour."

When Shahbaz returned to the side in Atlanta, the axe fell on his replacement Nadeem, popularly referred to as 'ND'. Nadeem, however, was to take part in the two subsequent Olympics as the team's star forward and was even captain at Athens 2004.

The Pakistan hockey set-up had been struck by administrative trouble even at the time when the team set off for the 1988 Olympiad in Seoul. The team had three managers in the space of two months. Brigadier Manzoor Hussain Atif gave up the post in order to pursue further administrative duties and handed over to Khalid Mahmood.

The latter in turn resigned for what was believed to be a clash of personalities. Islahuddin Siddiqi took on the job at short notice, but the odds were against him with the recurrence of injury problems.

But what happened during the chaos and turmoil leading to Pakistan's participation in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta made the circumstances preceding the expedition to Seoul look mild in comparison. Everything seemed to have gone wrong oddly enough from December 26 in 1995 with the shattering 5-2 defeat by India in the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games hockey final at Madras where the Pakistan team was at full strength.

Manager Abdul Rasheed Junior and the coach Saeed Khan then left the scene to be replaced by Manzoorul Hasan as coach and PHF Secretary Col Mudassar Asghar as manager.

The rumbles of discontent were heard within weeks of the team's return to Karachi and matters came to a head at the training camp with the demand by the players for better living conditions and allowances and for the removal of the manager and coach.

Mudassar and Manzoor agreed to step down in the interests of the team and problems appeared to have been solved when the players' demands had been met. Samiullah accepted the post as manager with Jahangir Butt as coach. But the campaign in Atlanta appeared doomed from the start as everyone seemed ill-equipped mentally and physically to challenge for an Olympic medal.

 

GOALKEEPER MANSOOR AHMED TAKES OVER AS CAPTAIN

Shahbaz Ahmed 'Senior' remained the Pakistan hockey captain for more than six years, after having taken over from Qazi Mohib in 1990. When he launched his 'players rebellion' against the national hockey authorities, the team's leadership went to goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmed, who was getting ready to take part in his third successive Olympic Games at Atlanta.

Mansoor was captain at the Pre-Olympic Tournament held in Atlanta, also in 1996, and led Pakistan to victory in the final. India finished as runners-up and Great Britain occupied third place. For the Atlanta Olympiad, inside-right Tahir Zaman, who too was appearing in his third consecutive Games at this level, was Mansoor's vice-captain.

Shahbaz Ahmed, who played in Atlanta as an ordinary member of the side, was also taking part in an Olympiad for the third time. Those who were making their second appearance were full-back Rana Mujahid, half-back Mohammad Khalid Sr and inside-left Mohammad Shahbaz, sometimes known as Shahbaz Junior.

The newcomers in the line-up were Khalid Mahmood, the other goalkeeper, full-backs Danish Kaleem and Naveed Alam, half-backs Mohammad Usman, Shafqat Malik and Irfan Mahmood, centre-forward Kamran Ashraf and the other forwards Mohammad Sarwar, Aleem Raza and Rahim Khan. Naveed Alam is currently coach of the Pakistan team and is going to Beijing next month in the same capacity.

Pakistan's biggest achievements since Barcelona 1992, as mentioned earlier, were winning the Champions Trophy title in Lahore and the World Cup in Sydney, both in the year 1994. Shahbaz was captain on either occasion. Incidentally, since the World Cup triumph, Pakistan have failed to win a gold medal in a major international hockey competition!

The noted hockey historian and journalist Sydney Friskin wrote in his celebrated book 'Going for Gold Pakistan at Hockey': "Twelve nations assembled at Atlanta where the 1996 Olympic tournament for men and women was played at two venues, the Morris Brown College and the Clarke Atlanta University Stadium. Although Pakistan looked a little unsettled, there was little difficulty in defeating the United States 4-0 in the first pool match on July 20. The Americans looked no better than an average club side.

"Shahbaz Ahmed, originally declared as a substitute, was not long in taking the field. Kamran Ashraf scored two goals after Mohammad Shahbaz had given Pakistan the lead. Midway in the second half, Tahir Zaman added the fourth goal after which the game ceased to have any appeal.

"Spectators were shocked on the morning of July 22 when Pakistan lost to Spain 3-0. The simple analysis of this match is that Pakistan could not measure up to the zeal and vitality of the Spaniards who took a quick 2-0 lead and never looked back.

"The outside-left Javier Arnau scored twice and Juan Escarre added to the score. Two days later Pakistan lost 3-1 to Germany and hopes of a place in the semifinals receded. The goal for Pakistan was scored by the half-back Mohammad Khalid in answer to two by Andreas Becker and one by Sven Meinhardt for Germany.

"A crowd of 14,827 assembled at the Morris Brown College to witness what was expected to be a classic meeting between India and Pakistan on July 26. Not many matches between the two giants of the subcontinent have ended goalless, but this was destined to end in stalemate when neither side wanted to lose.

 

PAKISTAN, INDIA OUT OF RUNNING FOR SEMIFINALS

"Attractive approach work by both sets of forwards was offset by a strange reluctance to shoot, although India managed to steer the ball into the net late in the second half; the goal was rightly disallowed because the ball was illegally lifted into the circle before the shot was taken. The result virtually put both teams out of the running for a place in the semifinals.

"Shahbaz Ahmed scored three goals on July 28 in a refreshing 6-2 victory over Argentina but, by that time, Pakistan's cause was lost, with an ultimate fourth position in the pool behind India. In the play-offs for fifth to eighth places, both India and Pakistan were in action at the same time. Pakistan scraped through with a 2-1 victory over Great Britain but India, after leading 3-1 against the Koreans, drew 3-3 and lost on penalty strokes.

"South Korea maintained its supremacy in Asia by defeating Pakistan 3-1 in the play-off for fifth place. An early goal by Jong-Ha Jeon was answered by the centre forward Kamran Ashraf a minute later. But after a stirring second-half battle marked by numerous injuries and hold-ups, the Koreans prevailed with two late goals by Seok-Kyo Shin from a penalty corner and Seong-Tae Song. The result consigned Pakistan to sixth place, its lowest in Olympic competition.

"India suffered a similar fate, relegated to eighth place. After taking the lead twice the Indians lost 4-3 to Great Britain in the play-off. With the downfall of the Asian teams, Malaysia having finished in eleventh position, three European sides, Spain, Germany and Holland contested the semifinals along with Australia. Spain defeated Australia 2-1 and Holland beat Germany 3-2.

"Holland's long-felt dream of winning the Olympic medal was fulfilled with a 3-1 victory over Spain in the final. After a blank first half, Spain scored through Victor Pujol but two goals by Floris Jan Bovelander, both fiercely struck from penalty corners, virtually settled the fate of the match with Bram Lomans adding the third goal towards the end. The smouldering embers of interest in Atlanta were finally extinguished."

 

SHABANA AKHTAR MAKES OLYMPIC GAMES HISTORY

With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) making it mandatory for participating nations to send at least one woman athlete to the Olympic Games, whether this person came up to the qualifying standards or not, Pakistan's versatile Shabana Akhtar became the first female athlete from this country to feature at this level. For Atlanta 1996, while the hockey team and the boxers qualified through the natural process, two athletes from Pakistan in addition to a swimmer and a wrestler were chosen as wild card entries.

Shabana, who was the Pakistan champion in the women's sprints -- the 100 and 200 metres races, long jump, triple jump and the heptathlon, went to Atlanta as an entrant in the long jump event. She made a leap of 5.80 metres (19ft 3/10in) in the qualifying round, finished 16th out of 17 competitors and didn't advance any further.

Shabana, 24 years old at Atlanta, had won gold medals at two back-to-back SAF Games -- at Dhaka 1993 and Madras 1995 -- in the long jump. In the latter competition, she created the Pakistan record of 6.31m (20ft 8-4/10in), which still stands unchallenged. She had also represented the country at two World Championships in Athletics, at Stuttgart 1993 and Goteburg 1995, where she took part in the two sprints.

Competition in the Olympic Games was so tough that if Shabana had even equalled her career-best mark, she would have finished only at 10th spot in her qualifying round in Atlanta. The Nigerian girl Chioma Ajunwa, who later took the gold medal, jumped 7.12 metres or 23ft 4-3/10in.

Aqarab Abbas in hammer throw was Pakistan's other wild card athlete. He still holds the Pakistan record of 68.20 metres (223ft 9-0/10in), which he attained at Islamabad in 1995. In the SAF Games in Madras 1995, he won the gold medal after having taken silver at Dhaka 1993. His bronze medal at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima is the last athletics medal that Pakistan have picked up in these regional games.

At Atlanta, Aqarab only made a throw of 65.60 metres (215ft 2-6/10in) in his qualifying round and finished 16th out of 19. Balazs Kiss of Hungary, who took the gold medal, sent the hammer flying a distance of 81.24 metres (266ft 6-4/10in). Aqarab's best throw of 68.20m at the Olympics would have kept him right there -- at number 16 in the qualifiers!

 

OTHERS DISAPPOINT AS ALWAYS

The four boxers sent to Atlanta were an utter disappointment. Abdul Rasheed Qambrani, Usmaullah Khan and Sifarish Khan were all beaten by the first opponents they faced in their respective bouts. Only welterweight Abdul Rasheed Baloch managed to win his first round fight, but he too fell at the next hurdle.

Much was expected from the country's star swimmer, the then 17-year-old Kamal Salman Masud. At the 1993 SAF Games in Dhaka, when he was just 14, Kamal won a gold medal -- in 400 metres freestyle, in addition to two individual silver medals. At Madras 1995, he added three silver medals and a bronze to his tally.

At the 1996 Olympic Games, Kamal swam the 100 metres butterfly with a time of 58.59 seconds in his heat. He ended fourth out of five participants. Russia's Denis Pankratov, who won the gold medal, achieved a time of 52.27 seconds in a new world record.

Kamal went on to claim two gold medals at the 1999 Kathmandu SAF Games, in the 100 and 200 metres butterfly events. He won another wild card entry for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, but fared even worse than at Atlanta.

Pakistan's lone wrestler Mohammad Bashir Bhola Bhala didn't go beyond the first round. At the SAF Games level, he has so far earned four gold medals in addition to a silver. He has also won two bronze medals in the Commonwealth Games -- at Victoria in 1994 and at  Manchester in 2002. He simply wasn't upto the standard at the Olympic Games.

 

CAULDRON LIT BY THE GREAT MUHAMMAD ALI

The 1996 Games were given a dramatic start when the cauldron was lit by Muhammad Ali. One of the world's greatest living athletes did so during the opening ceremonies of the games and also received a replacement gold medal from the 1960 Summer Olympics boxing event which had been taken away from him following his famous draft dodge many years ago.

On July 27, during a concert held in the Centennial Olympic Park, a terrorist bomb killed one person and injured a further 110 people, but the Atlanta Games are best remembered for their sporting achievements. A record-setting 79 nations won medals and 53 won gold.

Carl Lewis became only the third person to win the same individual event four times and the fourth person to earn a ninth gold medal. Naim Suleymanoglu became the first weightlifter to win a third gold medal. Michael Johnson smashed the 200m world record to complete a 200m and 400m double.

A total of 197 nations were represented, who sent 10,320 athletes that comprised 3,523 women and 6,797 men. There were 271 events in 26 sports. The 1996 Summer Olympics, formally known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad and informally known as the Centennial Olympics, were celebrated in 1996 in Georgia, United States. Atlanta was selected in September 1990 in Tokyo, Japan, above Athens, Belgrade, Manchester, Melbourne and Toronto.

Some felt Athens should have had the right to host the games because it marked the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic Games. The IOC instead voted, on September 18, 1990, for Atlanta, predicting that Athens' infrastructure could not be improved enough in time to successfully host the Games. Athens would eventually win the right to host the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The mascot for the Olympiad was an abstract, animated character named Izzy. In contrast to the standing tradition of mascots of national or regional significance in the city hosting the Olympiad, Izzy was an amorphous, computer-designed fantasy figure. The mascot was popularly ridiculed by the public and press as commercialised, unappealing and ungrounded in any connection to the region.

Donovan Bailey of Canada won the men's 100 m, setting a new world record of 9.84 seconds at that time. France's Marie-Jose Perec equalled Johnson's performance, although without a world record, by winning the rare 200 m/400 m double.

At the age of 35, Carl Lewis took his fourth long jump gold medal. Lewis, Paavo Nurmi and Mark Spitz now share the record for most Olympic gold medals (9). Softball, beach volleyball and mountain biking debut on the Olympic programme, together with women's soccer/football and lightweight rowing.

Palestine was allowed to compete in the Olympics for the first time. Cycling professionals were admitted to the Olympics, with five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain winning the inaugural individual time trial event.

Michelle Smith of Ireland won three gold medals and a bronze in swimming, but her victories were overshadowed by doping allegations. She passed all tests however.

Andre Agassi won the gold medal in the tennis event. This helped him become the first male player to ever win the career Golden Slam.

Twenty-four countries made their Olympic debut this year, including eleven of the ex-Soviet countries that competed as part of the Unified Team in 1992. Russia competed independently for the first time since 1912, when it was the Russian Empire. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia competed as Yugoslavia.

The 14 countries making their Olympic debut were: Azerbaijan, Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros, Dominica, Guinea-Bissau, FYR Macedonia, Nauru, Palestine, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Sao Tome and Principe, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

The 10 countries making their Summer Olympic debut (after competing at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer) were: Armenia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Slovakia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

United States, the host nation, topped the medals table with a tally of 101 that comprised 44 gold, 32 silver and 25 bronze. Russia were second with 63 (26-21-16) and Germany third with 65 (20-18-27).

The others among the top 10 countries were China 50 (16-22-12), France 37 (15-7-15), Italy 35 (13-10-12), Australia 41 (9-9-23), Cuba 25 (9-8-8), Ukraine 23 (9-2-12) and South Korea 27 (7-15-5).

 

NEXT WEEK: Pakistan at 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney

 

The writer is Group Editor Sports of 'The News'

[email protected]

[email protected]

 

PAKISTAN AT 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: ALL RESULTS

ATHLETICS

Long jump (women): Qualifying round Group B Shabana Akhtar 5.80m 16th out of 17

Hammer throw: Qualifying round Group B Aqarab Abbas 65.60m 16th out of 18

 

BOXING

Light Flyweight (48kg): 1/16 elimination Abdul Rasheed Qambrani lost to Oleg Kiryukhin (Ukraine) on points 17:3

Light Welterweight (63.5kg): 1/16 elimination Usmanullah Khan lost to Nordine Mouchi (France) KO in first round

Welterweight (67kg): 1/16 elimination Abdul Rasheed Baloch beat Jesus Flores (Mexico) on points 12:7, 1/8 elimination lost to Nurzhan Smanov (Kazakhstan) on points 13:9

Super Heavyweight (+91kg): 1/16 elimination Sifarish Khan bye, 1/8 elimination lost to Duncan Dokiwari (Nigeria) RSC in second round

 

HOCKEY

Preliminaries Group A: Pakistan beat USA 4-0 (half-time 3-0), lost to Spain 3-0 (h-t 2-0), lost to Germany 3-1 (h-t Germany 1-0), drew with India 0-0 (h-t 0-0), beat Argentina 6-2 (h-t 1-1). Pakistan finished at number four after Spain, Germany and India in Group A 5 played, 2 won, one drawn, 2 lost, GF 11, GA 8, points 5. Classification matches Pakistan beat Great Britain 2-1 (h-t 1-1). Final 5-6 Pakistan lost to Korea 3-1 (h-t 2-1). Pakistan finished 6th

 

SWIMMING

100 metres butterfly: Heat 1 Kamal Salman Masud 58.59sec 4th out of 5

 

WRESTLING (FREESTYLE)

90kg: Round 1 Mohammad Bashir Bhola Bhala lost to Makharbek Khadartsev (Russia) on points 10:0

 

PAKISTAN DID NOT WIN A MEDAL

 

 

Pakistan will be represented at Beijing 2008 for the third time in a row in the Olympic Games shooting event. Mohammad Siddiq Umar, a marksmen specialising in rifle shooting has been awarded a wild card entry into the Olympiad. In the same manner, the country's celebrated skeet shooter Khurram Inam took part in the previous two Olympic Games -- at Sydney 2000 and Athen 2004, but he returned home after having registered rather disastrous results.

Siddiq Umar turns only 26 years old in September this year. He belongs to the somewhat unknown Karak area in the southern North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, a district which is surrounded by Kohat, the currently troubled Hangu, Bannu, North Waziristan and Lakki Marwat and has a long border with the Punjab province on the east. Situated 123 km from Peshawar on the Indus Highway, Karak is known for his excellent honey production.

Siddiq has just returned from Wiesbaden in Germany, where he was undergoing training as part of a six-member Pakistan team at the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) academy.

While even the bespectacled and bearded Khurram Inam from Karachi who, at the age of 41 is still active on the national circuit here in Pakistan, couldn't shoot his way to any medals in major international events, Siddiq is really not an old hand at this art. He was though a part of the Pakistan squad at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, but didn't quite inspire confidence with the results that he finally achieved.

According to Khalid Javed, Secretary General of the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) who is also accompanying the national contingent to Beijing as manager of the one-man shooting squad, Siddiq is our best bet at the forthcoming Olympiad. He may not be good enough to win a medal, Khalid admits, but Siddiq should be able to use the exposure to his advantage in the events that will follow in the years ahead.

Siddiq also took part in the 11th Asian Shooting Championship in Kuwait last year, where Pakistan overall performed quite poorly, and Siddiq was not able to even start his 50 metres rifle prone event.

At the Doha Asiad two years ago, Siddiq ended up at the 35th spot in the 10 metres air rifle competition and, with teammate Mohammad Ayaz Tahir, only occupied 14th place in the team event. In the 50 metres rifle prone qualification, he was 21st and 16th in the elimination round. He and Ayaz Tahir were ninth in the team contest.

In the 50 metres rifle 3 positions individual, Siddiq ended up at number 21. He and Ayaz Tahir then finished 10th in the team competition.

In the recent national shooting championship, according to NRAP Secretary General Khalid Javed, Siddiq had created national records in rifle shooting. That was one of the reasons why he was considered for a wild card participation at the Beijing 2008 Olympiad.

 

PAKISTAN SHOOTERS HAVE DONE WELL AT SOUTH ASIAN LEVEL

In the regional South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, which are now simply known as the South Asian Games, the shooters from Pakistan have pocketed a good number of medals. The standard of these Games, however, may not be upto the topmost international level. Yet, a tally of 69 medals including nine gold is nothing to be disrespectful about.

Of these medals, 11 have been claimed by Pakistan's women shooters. These don't include any gold, but there have been four silver and seven bronze medals.

The South Asian Games are competed amongst the eight member countries of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and these include India who, internationally, have been quite a successful side where winning shooting medals are concerned.

Pakistan picked up a total of 21 medals in the shooting events at the South Asian Games in Colombo in 2006. These comprised five gold, five silver and 11 bronze. This encouraged the Pakistan authorities to send a 12-strong squad -- including a female shooter Mehwish Maqsood -- to the Doha Asian Games later in the year. No more medals came their way in Qatar though, where India did very well with a total of 14 medals -- three gold, five silver and six bronze.

At the Colombo South Asian Games also, India were way ahead of Pakistan with a total of 35 shooting medals. These comprised as many as 19 gold, 11 silver and five bronze.

Shooting was not on the curriculum for the first five SAF Games. Then it made a mark at the 1991 event in Colombo. In Dhaka 1993, Pakistan claimed their first two gold medals. Inamullah Khan Gandapur won an individual medal in the free pistol and then joined hands with Sajid Iqbal to take another gold in the team event.

No more gold medals were won until the Islamabad SAF Games in 2004. Raja Mohammad Shafiq surprised Olympian Khurram Inam, who was restricted to second place and a silver, by taking the skeet gold. Khurram was, however, on the team alongside Shafiq and Ahmed Sultan when the trio won the team skeet gold medal.

Pakistan's most prolific marksman -- at least where winning medals is concerned -- Pakistan Navy's Irshad Ali won the 25m standard pistol gold at the Colombo South Asian Games in 2006. Another gold was won by Irshad in the team competition of the same event. Irshad was also part of the 25m centre fire pistol group which won the team gold.

Maqbool Hussain Tabassum, who also featured in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, was a five-time gold medallist at Colombo's South Asian Games. He won individual gold in the 25m rapid fire pistol as well as the 25m standard pistol events. Then he joined others to win the team gold in the 25m rapid fire pistol, 25m standard fire pistol and 25m centre fire pistol competitions.

 

IRSHAD ALI MAKES HIS MARK IN COMMONWEALTH GAMES

At the British Empire & Commonwealth Games level, Pakistan took part in the shooting event for the first time in 1966 at Kingston, Jamaica. Only three marksmen were sent and all finished way down the ladder in their chosen events.

From 1972 to 1989, Pakistan didn't participate in the competition, now simply known as the Commonwealth Games, as they had withdrawn their membership from the British Commonwealth of Nations. They returned at Auckland 1990, but it was not until 1994 at Victoria that a Pakistan shooting team appeared at the Games. Since then, the country's shooters including several women have competed in all the subsequent Commonwealth Games.

Irshad Ali finally won for Pakistan a Commonwealth Games shooting medal. It was a bronze at Manchester 2002, in the centre fire pistol event. Another bronze medal followed, in association with Zahid Ali, as the two also took third place in the centre fire pistol team contest.

Irshad Ali received an upgradation at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, where he won a silver medal in the 25m standard pistol competition. Both he and England's Michael 'Mick' Gault registered scores of 568, but the gold went to Gault as he had needed fewer shots to do so.

Irshad Ali was also part of the Pakistan team which won the country's first ever medal at the 10th Asian Shooting Championship in Kuala Lumpur in 2004. The Pakistan centre fire pistol trio of Irshad Ali 575/600, Mohammad Kashif 573/600 and Zahid Ali 570/600 accumulated 1718/1800 to claim the third spot which earned them the bronze medal.

South Korea with 1730/1800 clinched the gold medal and North Korea secured silver medal with 1723/1800.

Earlier, the 2000 Sydney Olympian Khurram Inam missed the 2004 Athens Olympic skeet shooting quota berth by one point. He ended up with 142/150 to be content with the fifth spot.

The Pakistan skeet team comprising Khurram Inam, Ahmed Sultan and Karamat Amin got fourth spot in the team event. Khurram, however, later won another wild card entry for the Olympiad in 2004.

 

THE DISAPPOINTING DISPLAYS OF KHURRAM INAM

Without any doubt one of the most capable marksmen in the country, Khurram Inam has generally disappointed at the international level though. He has appeared in two Olympic Games, in addition to the Asian and Commonwealth Games contests, and has generally been quite unimpressive.

He went through a frustrating ordeal on his way to a poor performance in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006. He was unable to make the finals of the Games' skeet shooting event after getting a "raw deal" from one of the judges of the event.

A NRAP official said that Khurram was wrongfully warned on several occasions by a female judge over his posture at the skeet event's opening rounds which was the reason why the seasoned shooter flopped in the initial rounds of the competition. Khurram could just manage a low score of 41 out of 50 on the opening day but tried to bounce back with 72 out of 75.

However, his last day's performance was not enough for him to reach the finals. Khalid Javed, the NRAP secretary, said that Khurram could have won a medal for Pakistan had he not been wrongfully warned on several occasions by the Australian judge. He said that the warnings blew away Khurram's concentration and he was unable to give a good show in the opening rounds.

Khalid said that the Pakistani officials lodged an official protest with the CW Games organisers over the incident. The secretary said that the officials were shown photographs of the event, which proved that Khurram was wrongfully warned during the event.

The NRAP official said that the organisers admitted that Khurram got a raw deal from the judge and gave an apology but the move came too late. Khalid said that the NRAP had great hopes in Khurram as he had been giving 98 percent scores in practice sessions ahead of the skeet event.

At the Olympics too, Khurram couldn't do well either. He finished at number 23 in the skeet event at Sydney 2000. He sunk further at Athens four years later, managing only a joint 37th position out of 41 competitors.

In the year 2005, however, Khurram won a bronze medal in the skeet team event of the Asian Shooting championship in Bangkok. It was for the first time that Pakistan had won a medal in the Asian arena in a shotgun event.

The Pakistani team that included Khurram, Ahmed Sultan and Karamat Amin scored a total of 343 points out of 375 to take the third place on the podium ahead of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who ended at the fourth place with 342 points, just one point behind Pakistan.

World champions Kuwait took the gold with a score of 361 out of 375 followed by silver medallists Japan who finished with an aggregate of 353.

A total of 18 nations participated in the skeet team event of the Asian championship. Ahmed Sultan shot the best score of 117 for Pakistan followed by Karamat (114) and Khurram (112).

 

KARAMAT AMIN JUST MISSES A MEDAL

Then there was marksman Sheikh Karamat Amin Masood at the Doha Asian Games in 2006. While the highly rated Khurram Inam finished at the 24th position out of a field of 51 competitors, Karamat was tied at the sixth spot with Di Jin of China with 121 points in the skeet shooting qualification.

To break the tie, there was a shoot-off. Unfortunately, Di Jin scored +5 as opposed to Karamat's +4. Only six men would have qualified for the skeet final, Karamat was demoted to number seven. Incidentally, Di Jin eventually won the bronze medal.

Apart from a very few instances, the shooters from Pakistan have performed quite poorly in international competition. Yet, the country's marksmen featured in four consecutive Olympic Games, from Helsinki 1952 to Tokyo 1964, needless to say with disastrous results. Saifi Chaudhry and Mohammad Zafar Ahmed, more commonly known as M Z Ahmed, appeared in two successive Olympiads and could only finish near the end in their chosen events. The accompanying table is self-explanatory.

From Mexico City 1968 to Atlanta 1996, Pakistan didn't send any of their shooters to the Olympic Games. It was after a thirty-six years absence that Khurram Inam represented the country at this level.

 

JUST WHAT IS SHOOTING?

Shooting sports consist of four disciplines: Shotgun, rifle, pistol and running target. Within these disciplines, shooting events include clay pigeon, skeet, down the line, free pistol and trap.

The disciplines may be divided into two main parts: Precision shooting and shotgun events. Precision shooting applies to rifle, pistol and running target events where shots are scored from 0-10, according to the place of the shot in scoring rings.

In slow shooting, time limits are given for the entire event. In rapid fire shooting, time limits are given for one single shot or a group of five shots.

In the shotgun event, only two evaluations are possible, "bono" where the target is broken by the shot, or "zero", where the shooter misses the target. Shotgun has no time limits but there are limits on where the target may be reached by a shot.

Most competitors shoot in a standing position. In rifle shooting, they shoot prone and kneeling. All the positions are described in the official regulations.

Firearms originated as military weapons, used along with stone throwing machines, bows and crossbows. The booming sound of early firearms compensated for their lack of precision and power.

Many changes in firearms history occurred in the early 16th century when the rifle was created. A slug was put in the bore to stabilise the bullet in the air and accuracy improved significantly.

As the muzzle-loading rifle was slow to reload, rifles were mainly used for elite sports and hunting.

In the 19th century, shooting began to evolve as a sport. One of its champions, Pierre de Coubertin, the French pistol champion, was the founder of the modern Olympic Games.

Shooting was featured in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. Nine different sports were placed on the programme and shooting sports had the highest number of participants in these first Olympic Games. The first World Shooting Championships were held one year later in 1897.

Shooting has been contested in most Olympic Games with the exception of 1904 and 1928. Women were first allowed to compete in 1968.

In 1984, the International Shooting Union (now called the ISSF -- International Shooting Sport Federation) introduced separate events for women. Between 1984 and 1992, the number of women's events gradually increased.

The current Olympic programme includes 16 different shooting events: nine for men and seven for women. There are three shooting disciplines presented in the Olympic programme: rifle, pistol and shotgun (clay target).

Shooting joined as an official sport in the second Asian Games held in Manila, the Philippines, in 1954.

Among the Asian countries, India stand out as a medal-winning nation in international shooting events. At the Commonwealth Games, where this competition is dominated by teams like Australia, England and Canada, India don't lag behind. They have so far won 71 medals at this level that include 38 gold. At the 2006 Melbourne Games, India won as many as 26 shooting medals, comprising 16 gold, seven silver and three bronze.

At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, India's Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won a silver medal in the men's double trap event. Not since Paris 1900, when Norman Pritchard took silver medals in both the 200 metres hurdles and 200 metres races for (British) India, has any other Indian taken an independent silver medal.

India are now, at Beijing 2008, in fact expecting to bring home a gold medal or two from the shooting events. Abhinav Bindra and a female shooter Anjali Bhagwat are seriously eyeing to attain the highest positions at the forthcoming Olympiad.

 

PAKISTAN AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES SHOOTING EVENT

1952 HELSINKI OLYMPICS

Small bore rifle (40 shots in the prone position, distance 50 metres): Azam Jan 90/96/94/96=366 58th out of 58

 

1956 MELBOURNE OLYMPICS

Free pistol (distance 50 metres): Mohammad Zafar Ahmed score 460 31st out of 33

Free rifle (distance 300 metres): Saifi Chaudhry score 267 20th out of 20

Small bore rifle three positions (distance 50 metres): Mohammad Zafar Ahmed score 999 43rd out of 44

Small bore rifle prone (distance 50 metres): Mohammad Zafar Ahmed score 582 44th out of 44

 

1960 ROME OLYMPICS

Free rifle (300 metres): Elimination rounds Group One Aziz Wains score 487 19th out of 20. Final Aziz Wains not present

Free pistol (50 metres): Elimination rounds Group One Mohammad Zafar Ahmed score 289 31st out of 33

Small bore rifle (prone position): Elimination rounds Group One Saifi Chaudhry score 373 39th out of 43

Small bore rifle (three positions): Elimination rounds Group Two Saifi Chaudhry score 506 34th out of 38. Aziz Wains not present

Pistol rapid fire shooting at silhouette (25 metres): Mohammad Iqbal score 501 55th out of 57

 

1964 TOKYO OLYMPICS

Small bore rifle 3 positions (50 metres): Aziz Ahmed Chaudhry score 1040 50th out of 53. Saifi Chaudhry retired

Small bore rifle prone position (50 metres): Aziz Ahmed Chaudhry score 567 73rd out of 73

Free pistol (50 metres): M A Salaam score 507 46th out of 52

Rapid fire pistol (25 metres): Abdur Rashid score 538 49th out of 53

Clay pigeon shooting: Mohiuddin Khawaja score 91 51st out of 51

 

2000 SYDNEY OLYMPICS

Skeet: Qualification series 1 Khurram Inam score 72 joint 15th out of 49, final score 119 joint 23rd out of 49

 

2004 ATHENS OLYMPICS

Skeet: Qualification round Khurram Inam score 114 joint 37th out of 41 didn't qualify for final

 

 

 

 

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