KARACHI: Japan-based Haroon Abid will make his international debut in the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship to be held in Johannesburg from December 15-17.
“Yes, we have sent Haroon’s entry in the 97 kilogramme category,” Pakistan Wrestling Federation’s (PWF) secretary Arshad Sattar told ‘The News’ from Islamabad on Tuesday. “We want to test him as he has been training in Japan for the last three years,” he added.
Haroon is the nephew of Jhara Pehalwan. And Arshad revealed that former Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki is supporting him. “He has been taken to Japan by Inoki. He is supporting him and that is why he has improved so much in three years. I have seen his videos and he seems in good shape,” Arshad said.
Arshad said that financially Haroon is stable and would bear his own expenses for the tour. He said that Haroon’s main target is 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “He has set for himself target of playing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He is training hard for achieving his goal,” the official added.
National champion Tayyab Raza is the other who is being sent to the South African event in 97 kilogramme. To a query Arshad said that 11 wrestlers would be part of Pakistan’s squad which would depart on December 13.
“Besides Haroon, all ten gold medallists of the recently concluded National Championship will be part of the touring party which will be accompanied by one manager, one coach and one referee,” the official said.
However, he was quick to add that the fate of two grapplers was not yet hundred percent confirmed.“The passport of Sajawal who inflicted an upset defeat on Asad Butt in the national championship 79 kilogramme competitions recently is yet to be prepared. Ahmed has some issues with his department and it is yet to be seen whether he will be given NOC. We have on our part made an effort but let’s see what happens. If the two are not available then nine wrestlers will be representing Pakistan, in both freestyle and Greco-Roman style competitions,” Arshad explained.
Pakistan’s camp is in progress in Lahore. Arshad said that Pakistan would be trying for gold. “I am confident that we will grab at least three gold medals as we have Mohammad Inam (86kg), Mohammad Bilal (51kg) and Haroon who are expected to finish at the top in their respective weights,” the official said.
About the expenses, Arshad said that around Rs2.5 million would be spent. “Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) had kept Rs600,000 for us for this tour but we have requested it to give us Rs1.5 million as our total cost on the tour would be around Rs2.5 million,” Arshad said.
The championship will be a test for the national wrestlers as selection for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, both to be held next year, will be made on the basis of performance in this event.