Shahbaz Ahmed's hockey team wins Pakistan its last Olympic Games medal
The flames of interest were kindled anew and Pakistan went ahead when Qamar Ibrahim scored. Khalid crashed home another goal from a penalty corner for a 4-2 lead and in the dying seconds Gijs Weterings, the Dutch outside left, brought a bizarre match to a close by cutting Pakistan's advantage to 4-3
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
Following the ignominious display of the Pakistan hockey team at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, where they ended up without a medal in over three decades and slipped to a poor fifth position, Barcelona 1992 brought quite a bit of elation in contrast as this time they at least clinched the bronze medal. Unfortunately, since then this remains the last medal that Pakistan have claimed in an Olympic Games hockey tournament.

Pakistan swimmers lag far behind the best of the rest of the world
Pakistan Army won all the 19 gold medals on offer, in addition to five silver and eight bronze while collecting a total of 215 points. Kiran Khan stunned all by claiming as many as 15 of these gold medals
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
Pakistan's outstanding female swimmer Kiran Khalid Zaman Khan will be representing the country at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing next month. There will be two swimmers from Pakistan attending the Olympiad, the other one a male Adil Baig: both have been allowed entry into the mega sporting event through wild cards. For the uninitiated, a wild card means that the representatives would have failed to make a sporting tournament on merit, that is on the basis of their actual performances in a particular field. Still, their overall display over a certain period of time is surely monitored and only the 'best among the rest' are provided the luxury of a wild card selection.


Shahbaz Ahmed's hockey team wins Pakistan its last Olympic Games medal

Following the ignominious display of the Pakistan hockey team at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, where they ended up without a medal in over three decades and slipped to a poor fifth position, Barcelona 1992 brought quite a bit of elation in contrast as this time they at least clinched the bronze medal. Unfortunately, since then this remains the last medal that Pakistan have claimed in an Olympic Games hockey tournament.

Overall, of the 10 medals that Pakistan have earned at the various Olympiads, eight have been in hockey alone. There have been three gold -- at Rome 1960, Mexico City 1968 and Los Angeles 1984. Silver medals were attained at Melbourne 1956, Tokyo 1964 and Munich 1972 and the two bronze medals came their way at Montreal 1976 and in Barcelona sixteen years later.

At Atlanta 1996, Pakistan hockey sunk to its lower ever position in an Olympiad -- sixth. Their spirits were lifted somewhat at Sydney 2000, but all they could manage was fourth place. At Athens in 2004, in the last Olympic Games staged until this year, the Pakistan hockey team finished at the fifth spot. Since Barcelona 1992, no more medals have been won at the Olympic Games level.

After the Seoul event and until the 1992 Games, Pakistan hockey suffered a few lows with some highs registered here and there. The senior team's captaincy went from Nasir Ali, who led the side at Seoul 1988, to the stylish full-back Qazi Mohib, who started off well in January 1989 to help Pakistan retain the Indira Gandhi Gold Cup hockey title at Lucknow, an event they had won the previous year.

Under Qazi Mohib, however, Pakistan finished fourth in the 1989 Champions Trophy competition staged in West Berlin. Then, Pakistan beat arch-rivals India 2-0 in the final to win the Asia Cup trophy in New Delhi the same year.

In 1990, Holland won the World Cup title in Lahore and Pakistan were the runners-up. Later the same year, Pakistan lost out to Australia at the BMW Trophy competition played in Amsterdam. The crowning glory came at Beijing also in 1990 when, under Qazi Mohib, Pakistan regained their Asian Games gold medal which they had lost to South Korea at Seoul in 1986.

This was Pakistan's seventh gold in nine contests at this level. Unfortunately, since Beijing 1990, they have not won another Asian Games gold medal. Surprisingly, following this triumph, Qazi Mohib lost the national captaincy and soon after even his place in the Pakistan line-up.

Since 1987, when the brilliant 19-year-old Shahbaz Ahmed, later to be known as Shahbaz Senior and the 'Man with the electric heels', took over as captain of the national junior squad, he had got himself entrenched into that position. After Seoul 1988, he had helped Pakistan win the Junior BMW Trophy in Amsterdam in 1989 but his team slipped to third spot in the Junior World Cup in Ipoh the same year.

However, Shahbaz was handed over the senior outfit's leadership following Qazi Mohib's removal. Pakistan then finished fourth at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne in 1990 and had a rather unimpressive three-nation European tour the following year. Then, however, things started to look up.

Pakistan ended as runners-up in the 1991 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh behind India. They occupied second place also, Germany won the title, at the Champions Trophy in Berlin the same year. They were third at the 1992 Champions Trophy staged in Karachi but clinched the BMW Trophy title in Amsterdam in 1992 where five nations participated. Shahbaz was thus retained as captain when the team for the Barcelona Olympiad was announced.



Noted hockey historian and journalist Sydney Friskin wrote in his celebrated book 'Going for Gold Pakistan at Hockey': 'The hockey fraternity moved on in full force to Barcelona in 1992 and converged on Terrassa, the venue for both men and women. In the men's event Germany won the gold medal, Australia the silver and Pakistan the bronze. The Pakistan team looked strong, particularly in attack where Tahir Zaman, Shahbaz Ahmed, Wasim Feroz, Musaddiq Hussain and Mohammad Shahbaz were at the peak of their careers.

'Pakistan went through the pool matches unscathed to finish on top with ten points, Holland taking second place with eight. In the other pool, Australia and Germany were level each with a total of nine points but Australia took precedence on goal difference. Germany and Pakistan confronted each other for a semifinal match which the Germans should have lost; yet they won 2-1.

'At the end of the first half, the Germans were a goal down, Khalid Bashir having given Pakistan the lead from a penalty corner for his sixth goal (in all, he scored eight at Barcelona) of the tournament. Germany, in spite of committing defensive errors, pushed forward relentlessly to force a penalty corner.

'It led to a penalty stroke which Carsten Fischer converted to send the game into extra time. Pakistan came close to victory in this period but Mohammad Shahbaz spurned an easy chance. A severe price was paid when Fischer converted Germany's third penalty corner for ultimate victory.

'For the third time Australia stumbled at the last hurdle by losing 2-1 to Germany in the final. Michael Hilgers scored the first goal for the Germans early in the match with a fierce hit from close range and added another shortly after the change of ends. Greg Corbitt reduced the lead for the Australians from a penalty corner.

'The match for third place, which preceded the final, resembled a sudden change of course by a river in full flow. Holland looked to be in control after taking a 2-0 lead with goals by Marc Delissen and Stephan Veen. Only eighteen minutes were left when Pakistan struck two telling blows with goals by Mohammad Shahbaz and Khalid Bashir from a penalty corner.

'The flames of interest were kindled anew and Pakistan went ahead when Qamar Ibrahim scored. Khalid crashed home another goal from a penalty corner for a 4-2 lead and in the dying seconds Gijs Weterings, the Dutch outside left, brought a bizarre match to a close by cutting Pakistan's advantage to 4-3.'

Skipper Shahbaz Ahmed, in addition to goalkeepers Mansoor Ahmed and Shahid Ali Khan, and four other players -- Khalid Bashir, Qamar Ibrahim, Tahir Zaman and Musaddiq Hussain -- were all appearing in their second Olympic Games. Shahid Ali Khan, however, had been missing at Seoul 1988 after having assisted the gold medal winning squad at Los Angeles in 1984.

The newcomers in the hockey team in Barcelona were Wasim Feroz, who was named the vice-captain, Rana Mujahid, Anjum Saeed, Farhat Khan, Khawaja Junaid, Asif Bajwa, Mohammad Akhlaq, Mohammad Khalid Sr and the captain's namesake Mohammad Shahbaz.

Islahuddin Siddiqi, one of Pakistan's most successful hockey captains and inside-rights, retained his post as team manager which he had first gained at Seoul. His coach in Barcelona was another former Pakistan captain and the celebrated left full-back Munawwaruz Zaman.

Asif Bajwa, who scored three goals in the 1992 Olympiad, has only recently taken over as the Secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF). Khawaja Junaid's father, the versatile Khawaja Mohammad Aslam, was a member of the Pakistan hockey side forty years earlier, at the Helsinki Olympiad in 1952, though he did not actually make any playing elevens.



While there was some consolation for the hockey team in that it at least picked up a medal, the other participants from Pakistan disappointed as they always had at the Olympic Games level. Some of the country's most outstanding athletes featured in Barcelona, but none advanced from their first round heats, turning in quite poor performances in fact.

Contemporary reports said that some of Pakistan's athletes at least achieved their personal best marks at the 1992 Olympiad, an observation that was not entirely correct. Ghulam Abbas ended sixth out of seven runners in his 400 metres hurdles heat, with a time of 50.57 seconds. He had certainly done better before.

Ghulam Abbas was the last Pakistani to win a gold medal at the Asian Games track & field events, when he did so at Beijing 1990 in his favourite 400 metres hurdles. He had then run in with a time of 50.15 seconds. Banaras Khan had covered a triple jump distance of 15.72 metres while winning a gold medal at the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games at Colombo in 1991. At Barcelona, his best jump was 15.37 metres.

Ghulam Abbas was one of Pakistan's best athletes in the early 1990s. Apart from his Beijing Asian Games gold, he took gold medals in both the 110 metres and 400 metres hurdles at two separate SAF Games -- at Islamabad 1989 and Colombo 1991. He also won a silver medal at the Asian Track & Field Championships in Kuala Lumpur in 1991.

Nadir Khan, who ended up ninth in his 1,500 metres heat at Barcelona, had won a bronze medal in the 800 metres at the Asian Games in Beijing 1990. A silver medal was gained at the Asian Track & Field Championships in Kuala Lumpur the next year in the 800 metres in addition to a bronze in the 1,500 metres race.

At the SAF Games in Islamabad 1989 and Colombo 1991, Nadir picked up gold medals in 800 metres as well as 1,500 metres. The same two events brought him silver medals also.

Arif Hussain performed poorly in the two sprints and was ousted after the first round heats. At home, he was not a frontline athlete, his best achievement being a bronze medal at the SAF Games in Dhaka 1993 in the 200 metres with a time of 21.41 seconds.

But Arif proceeded soon after to the United States where he graduated as a clincal psychologist. He made the all-time top-10 list while studying at the Gettysburg College in the men's track & field events. Sixteen years later, Arif's time of 10.51 seconds in the 100 metres remains the best for his college which also places him in the US national champions category.

In 1993, Arif ran the 200 metres with a time of 21.09 seconds with Gettysburg College and occupies the second place in the all-time list. He is at number three in the 400 metres event having attained the distance in 48.16 seconds, also in 1993.

The boxers sent by Pakistan to Barcelona all were ousted at the earliest opportunity. The experienced Syed Abrar Hussain was taking part in his third successive Olympiad. He flunked in the light middleweight first round to Algeria's Noureddine Meziane, a boxer who he had defeated at Seoul 1988. Mohammad Asghar wouldn't have played in the second round, had the Iranian Ali Kazemi not provided him with a walkover.

The lone wrestler in the squad, bantamweight Naseer Ahmed, lost both his bouts in the elimination round. His second loss was against Cuba's Alejandro Puerto Diaz, who went on to win the gold medal in the event.

Pakistan took part in the yachting competition for their third successive -- and last -- Olympic Games. Mamoon Sadiq and Javed Rasool did slightly better than they had at Seoul 1988: then they had finished 29th and last in the 470 Class while at Barcelona they ended 36th out of 37 pairs.

This was a pity really. Since the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok, Pakistan had earned five gold medals -- mostly in the Enterprise Class though -- at this level before coming to Barcelona in 1992. The disasters they encountered at the Olympic Games were thus hard to comprehend.



Men's basketball was open to all professionals at Barcelona, and the US sent a 'Dream Team' that included Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Larry Bird. They won the gold medal with great ease.

Gymnast Vitaly Scherbo won six gold medals, including a record four in one day. Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia won the 10,000m run to become the first female black African Olympic champion. Her victory lap with silver medallist Elana Meyer, a white South African, symbolised hope for the future of the Olympic Movement.

The number of athletes participating in the 1992 Olympiad was 9,356 (6,652 men, 2,704 women) and there were 286 events in 32 sports. A total of 169 countries participated. The Games were officially known as the Games of the XXV Olympiad.

Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain, the birthplace of former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, was selected over Amsterdam, Belgrade, Birmingham, Brisbane and Paris in Lausanne, Switzerland, on October 17, 1986, from the 91st IOC Session.

With the exception of Afghanistan, it was the first time since the Munich 1972 Olympics that all of the IOC countries took part in the Games.

Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo lit the Olympic Flame by firing a burning arrow towards the cauldron. The arrow passed over the cauldron, which was emanating gas at that moment. The gas ignited and the flame appeared in the cauldron.

South Africa was allowed again to participate in the Olympics after a 28 years suspension in the Olympic Games for its apartheid policy. Following the German Reunification in 1990, Germany participated with a single team for the first time since 1960.

As the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania participated with their own teams for the first time since 1936. The other Soviet republics took part in the Unified Team.

The break up of Yugoslavia led to the debuts of Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Due to United Nations sanctions, Yugoslav athletes were not allowed to participate with their own team, but could compete under the Olympic flag as Independent Olympic Participants. 

Evelyn Ashford won her fourth Olympic gold medal in the 4x100 metres relay, making her one of only four female athletes to have achieved this in history.

Badminton and women's judo became part of the Olympic programme, while slalom canoeing returned to the Games after a 20-year absence.

Sergei Bubka had won gold in the men's pole vault in Seoul 1988, setting an Olympic record. He was favoured to easily take the gold again, but he left Barcelona empty-handed, failing to make any height in the pole vault. He failed in all his attempts. A little over a month later, in Tokyo, Bubka vaulted 20 feet 1 and 1/2 inches -- his third outdoor record of 1992 and 32nd world record overall.

The medals table was headed by the Unified Team which took a total of 112, comprising 45 gold, 38 silver and 29 bronze. United States were next with a tally of 108 (37-34-37) and Germany third with 82 medals (33-21-28).

The other nations among the top ten were China 54 (16-22-16), Cuba 31 (14-6-11), Spain 22 (13-7-2), South Korea 29 (12-5-12), Hungary 30 (11-12-7), France 29 (8-5-16) and Australia 27 (7-9-11).


NEXT WEEK: Pakistan at 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta


The writer is Group Editor Sports of 'The News'






100 metres: Round 1 heat 3 Arif Hussain 10.83sec 5th out of 8

200 metres: Round 1 heat 10 Arif Hussain 21.75sec 5th out of 7

1500 metres: Round 1 heat 2 Nadir Khan 3:44.96min 9th out of 13

400 metres hurdles: Round 1 heat 3 Ghulam Abbas 50.57sec 6th out of 7

Triple jump: Qualifying heat 1 Banaras Khan 15.37m 21st out of 21



Welterweight: Round 1 Khyber Shah lost to Mario Antonio Romero (Nicaragua) on points 7:2

Light Middleweight: Round 1 Syed Abrar Hussain lost to Noureddine Meziane (Algeria) on points 7:0

Light Heavyweight: Round 1 Mohammad Asghar w/o Ali Kazemi (Iran), round 2 lost to Zoltan Beres (Hungary) RSC in first round

Lightweight: Round 1 Arshad Hussain lost to Henry Kungsi (Papua New Guinea) on points 13:9



Preliminary Group B: Pakistan beat Malaysia 4-1 (half-time 3-1), beat New Zealand 1-0 (h-t 0-0), beat Unified Team 6-2 (h-t 2-2), beat Holland 3-2 (h-t 1-1), beat Spain 6-1 (h-t 1-0). Pakistan topped Group B 5 played, 5 won, GF 20, GA 6, points 10. Semifinals Pakistan lost to Germany 2-1 in extra time (h-t Pakistan 1-0). Place 3rd-4th Pakistan beat Holland 4-3 (h-t Holland 2-0). Pakistan won the bronze medal



Up to 57kg: Elimination B 1st round Naseer Ahmed lost to Keiji Okuyama (Japan) on points 5:0, 2nd round lost to Alejandro Puerto Diaz (Cuba) on points 6:0



470 Class: Pakistan (Mamoon Sadiq/Javed Rasool) points 273.00, net points 231.00 36th out of 37   






By Gul Hameed Bhatti

Pakistan's outstanding female swimmer Kiran Khalid Zaman Khan will be representing the country at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing next month. There will be two swimmers from Pakistan attending the Olympiad, the other one a male Adil Baig: both have been allowed entry into the mega sporting event through wild cards. For the uninitiated, a wild card means that the representatives would have failed to make a sporting tournament on merit, that is on the basis of their actual performances in a particular field. Still, their overall display over a certain period of time is surely monitored and only the 'best among the rest' are provided the luxury of a wild card selection.

Four years ago, Kiran had been upstaged by the two years younger Rubab Raza, who won a wild card entry into the Athens Olympiad of 2004 ahead of the former. Rubab not only became the first ever girl swimmer to represent Pakistan at the Olympic Games but also the country's youngest athlete at the tender age of 13 to compete at this level.

Even in 2004, perhaps, it was Kiran who should have gone to Greece instead of Rubab. But apparently, Rubab had done slightly better than Kiran on the international circuit at the time and that's why she went and competed at Athens.

In the only event at the Olympic Games that she was entered in, Rubab, needless to say, didn't do well. She was not supposed to, in face of the incredibly overwhelming international company that she was flung against. She swam her 50 metres freestyle heat in a poor time of 30.10 seconds, finished fifth out of eight participants, and did not advance. Overall, she was ranked 59th out of 75 swimmers.

The Lahore-based Kiran Khan, who has represented Pakistan at the Asian Games as well as the Commonwealth Games level -- without picking up any medals though, has continued to do quite well by comparison in the national and regional competitions for quite some time now. She is still only 18 years old and should survive in this business for a few more years yet.



Only last month, Kiran overwhelmed the opposition at the National Women's Open Swimming Championship 2008 held at the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) indoor swimming pool in Islamabad, in the same manner as she has done for a number of years. She swims at the national level for the Pakistan Army now after having served the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) previously.

Army won all the 19 gold medals on offer, in addition to five silver and eight bronze while collecting a total of 215 points. Kiran stunned all by claiming as many as 15 gold medals -- individual as well as team -- and was naturally declared the best swimmer of the meet.

Rubab Raza, who too represents the Army and is still a tender 17 years old, claimed a silver medal in the 50 metres backstroke event in which Kiran got gold in a time of 34.06 seconds -- not her personal best though.

In the 50 metres freestyle swim, Rubab picked up the gold medal while Kiran finished second. Rubab's time was an incredible 29.48 seconds: Kiran had completed this event in 30.93 seconds at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, in 2006.

Wild card entrants at the Olympics Games are generally allowed participation in only one event, as were Rubab Raza and the male swimmer Mumtaz Ahmed at Athens in 2004. Pakistan's most successful swimmer in recent years -- Kamal Salman Masud -- twice won entry through wild cards, at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, and he too took part in only one race on either occasion. One wonders which event has Kiran been entered in: surely not the 50 metres freestyle, which is not her best option definitely.

Kiran's qualification for the Beijing Olympiad could only come through a wild card because she certainly doesn't come up to the much greater standards set by swimmers around the world. Two Pakistan swimmers have earned wild card selections for the forthcoming Olympic Games, her colleague Adil Baig also represents the Pakistan Army at home.

Pakistan have been allowed five wild card entries for their sports people for the 2008 Games. Before the two swimmers, marksman Mohammad Siddiq Umar, whose forte is rifle shooting, had already been chosen for the Beijing event. Two athletes, female sprinter Sadaf Siddiqi and hurdler Abdul Rasheed were named after results of the general dope tests conducted on some of the national athletes were received.

Unfortunately, a female Noshee Parveen and a male Mohammad Shah tested positive for banned substances and could be facing two-year suspensions from the track. A few months back, hurdler Mohammad Sajjad too had faced a similar fate after his dope test came out. 



Born on December 21, 1989 in Lahore, Kiran is the daughter of a former international Pakistan swimmer Khalid Zaman Khan. Her brothers Shahbaz and Sikander Khan too are prominent national swimmers. Kiran and Sikander both represented the country in the 9th FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Manchester, England, in April this year.

Kiran appeared in six different events in Manchester, her best result being an overall 37th ranking in the 50 metres backstroke in which she swam the distance in her preliminary race in 32.94 seconds. Just to compare her time with the world record: Australia's Sophie Edington did so in only 27.67 seconds at Sydney on March 23 this year. She had beaten the time of Germany's Janine Pietsch who swam the distance in 28.19 seconds at Berlin in 2005.

In Manchester, Kiran also took part in the 50 metres freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 50m butterfly and 100m individual medley. Not with very encouraging results though.

But she has been quite successful at the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, which are now known simply as the South Asian Games. These are competed by the eight member nations of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which comprises countries mainly in the sub-continent here. Kiran has picked up as many as 16 medals in just two editions of the Games.

She won six silver and two bronze medals at Islamabad 2004 and another two silver and six bronze at Colombo 2006. Overall, the Pakistan female swimmers have a total of 27 medals in the South Asian Games -- no gold, 10 silver and 17 bronze. Kiran's share is eight silver and as many bronze medals.

Adil Baig, no doubt one of the best male swimmers in the country, has only two silver medals to his credit in the South Asian Games, one each in 2004 and 2006. Both were claimed as part of the national 4x200 metres freestyle relay team.

Incidentally, eversince the Pakistani girls hit the swimming pool waters at the international level some six to seven years ago, only one gold medal has come their way in a major multi-nation event. Kiran got one at the South Asian Swimming and Water Polo Championship, staged in Islamabad as recently as September 2007.

Kiran won the 50 metres butterfly gold in a new national record time, in a competition where India dominated and Sri Lanka were a close second. Kiran finished ahead of Fariha Zaman of India and Miniruwani Samarakoon of Sri Lanka.

Kiran's medal was the first gold overall since Kamal Salman Masud won three such medals in the male swimming events -- one in the 1993 SAF Games in Dhaka and two more at Kathmandu 1999 in the same competition. Kiran timed 30.35 seconds to improve her own national record of 31.40 seconds.

Kamal Masud, now settled in the United States, has surely been one of Pakistan's most outstanding swimmers. He won two wild card entries into the Olympic Games, the first at Atlanta 1996 when he was only 17 years old and the other at Sydney 2000. Even he, however, ended at the rear or thereabouts in his 100 metres butterfly heats on either occasion.



Kiran's two gold medals at the 4th Islamic Women Games in Tehran, Iran, in 2005 should, however, not be discounted. She won these medals in the 200 metres individual medley and 100 metres backstroke races. In all, she brought eight medals home from Iran -- two gold, two silver and four bronze.

Rubab Raza too picked up a gold medal in Tehran, in her favourite event, the 50 metres freestyle. Kiran didn't win anything here.  

As is with most sports in Pakistan, which are competed by female participants, swimming has been a target of religious hardliners in the country. It is mostly because of the costume involved and, although there have been no physical attacks on women sportspersons in Pakistan, the fundamentalists have shown visible disapproval of girls taking up sports. This happened especially when female swimmers first went abroad to appear at the international level.

Women sports, however, have continued to flourish in their own limited circuit for a good number of years in Pakistan, in spite of the constraints, quite poor training facilities and a lack of substantial financial support.

When Rubab went to Athens in 2004, she revealed that she hardly got an equivalent of $30 per month from the Pakistan Swimming Federation. She couldn't engage the services of a foreign coach to train her for the Olympics but her parents were very supportive and took almost the entire burden upon themselves of getting her ready for the big event.

Although he was chosen for the Manchester short course championships about three months ago, Adil Baig didn't eventually compete in the event. Both he and Kiran had, however, taken part in the 12th FINA Swimming World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, in March last year.

In Melbourne Adil, who is now 25 years old, finished 119th out of 175 in the 50 metres freestyle event, 131st out of 169 in the 100 metres freestyle and 64th out of 73 in the 200 metres individual medley. In the last named event, he swam the distance in 2:20.93 minutes, which was as much as 22.23 seconds slower than the man who finished first in his heat.

Just for the record, USA's star swimmer Michael Phelps covered this distance in a world record time of a mere 1:54.80 minutes at Omaha as recently as July 4 this year!

In the women's events, Kiran was 108th out of 128 in the 100 metres freestyle, 74th out of 93 in the 50 metres butterfly and 62nd out of 93 in the 50 metres backstroke. She swam her best event of the 50m butterfly in 31.56 seconds, which was 5.22 seconds slower than the winner of her heat.

Just for the record: Sweden's Therese Alshamar created the world record in this race with a time of 25.46 seconds at Barcelona, Spain, in 2007.



Pakistan sent its swimmers to all the first three Olympic Games that the country took part in. At London 1948, there were four men in the pool, two others at Helsinki in 1952 and a total of three at Melbourne 1956. Every one of these nine swimmers finished last in their preliminary heats and was ousted; one of them suffered the ignominy of being disqualified.

Pakistan's swimmers didn't return to the Olympics until 40 years later. Kamal Salman Masud appeared at the 1996 and 2000 Olympiads as a wild card entry. Rubab Raza and a male swimmer Mumtaz Ahmed -- in the 100 metres freestyle -- gained the right to participate at Athens 2004. Mumtaz was ranked overall 68th out of 72 swimmers in his chosen event.

Surely, the two Pakistan swimmers are not expected to set any pools on fire at Beijing 2008. Both the country's male and female exponents of the art lag far behind the rest of the world. In certain events the difference in time is as much as thirty seconds to a minute behind. At Islamabad this year, Kiran finished her 800 metres freestyle event in 10:42.31 minutes. This is 2:26.09 minutes slower than the world record attained by Janet Evans of the USA as far back as in 1989!

Yet, the experience gained at the Olympiad will do both Kiran and Adil a world of good. They will be rubbing shoulders, not literally though, with the best swimmers in the world even though they are expected to finish last or thereabouts in their chosen events. But maybe the future sporting generations of this country will bring about a real reversal of fortunes some day. Yes, some day. 




THE WORLD                                                        KIRAN KHAN

50m freestyle                Libby Trickett AUS                23.97                Sydney 2008        30.93                Melbourne 2006

100m freestyle                Libby Trickett AUS                52.88                Sydney 2008        1:04.69                Melbourne 2007

200m freestyle                Laure Manaudou FRA                1:55.22                Melbourne 2007   2:18.67                Colombo 2006

400m freestyle                Federica Pellegrini ITA                4:01.53                Eindhoven 2008   4:54.56                Colombo 2006

800m freestyle                Janet Evans USA                8:16.22                Tokyo 1989        10:42.31                Islamabad 2008

1500m freestyle                Kate Ziegler USA                15:42.54                Mission Viejo 2007                x

50m backstroke                Sophie Edington AUS                27.67                Sydney 2008        32.25                Colombo 2006

100m backstroke                Natalie Coughlin USA                58.97                Omaha 2008        1:09.76                Colombo 2006

200m backstroke                Margaret Hoelzer USA                2:06.09                Omaha 2008        2:40.34                Islamabad 2004

50m breaststroke                Jade Edmistone AUS                30.31                Melbourne 2006   32.61                Melbourne 2007

100m breaststroke                Leisel Jones AUS                1:05.09                Melbourne 2006   1:15.04                Islamabad 2007

200m breaststroke                Leisel Jones AUS                2:20.54                Melbourne 2006   2:47.48                Islamabad 2007

50m butterfly                Therese Alshamar SWE                25.46                Barcelona 2007     30.35                Islamabad 2007

100m butterfly                Inge de Bruijn NED                56.61                Sydney 2000        1:11.40                Islamabad 2004

200m butterfly                Jessicah Schipper AUS                2:05.40                Victoria 2006        2:41.24                Islamabad 2007

200m individual medley                Stephanie Rice AUS                2:08.92                Sydney 2008        2:38.37                Tehran 2005

400m individual medley   Katie Hoff USA                4:31.12                Omaha 2008        5:44.27                Islamabad 2007


Note: All records are correct up to July 7, 2008





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