“I did it again, Alhamdulillah,” said Pakistani sprinter Shajar Abbas as he created a new record and qualified for the 100m semi-finals of the Islamic Solidarity Games in just 10.26 seconds in the city of Rumi, Konya, Turkey.
Shajar will compete in the semi-finals at Konya Atletizm Pisti (Jkonya Metropolitan Stadium) on Tuesday.
Shajar has been a ray of hope for Pakistani athletics that has not produced many medal-winning sprinters in the recent years, and that is not because there is no talent or potential, but because of the lack of facilities, talent development along with zero interest in long-term investment in the athlete care and plan.
The 22-year-old Shajar made waves at the Commonwealth Games as well over the weekend when he became the first Pakistani to ever qualify for the final and compete at the semi-final of the 200m event in Birmingham.
“I am happy that I made another record, I am so grateful to Allah,” Shajar told The Express Tribune. “I did it again. Now I want to do my best in the semi-final as well. This is big for me.”
Shajar added that a good weather also helped him.
“The weather was thankfully good too, so that helped,” said Shajar.
He had difficulty in Birmingham as he felt the weather was cooler and his body did not respond as he wanted it to.
Shajar bettered Pakistan’s record of 10.38 seconds at the Games which was a repeat of his gold medal-winning finish in Kazakhstan from May this year.
It was also his personal best.
Shajar is the first Pakistani to have clocked in under 10.4 seconds at the international events while Liaqat Ali, former Pakistan number one, had recorded 10.10 seconds at the national championships in 2011, but it was hand-timed.
Shajar pulled off this feat in Konya remarkably because he had been travelling from Birmingham and went into the event barely after a few hours and without a good night’s sleep.
He arrived in Konya at 4:00am.
“I travelled, and I was extremely tired, I came here at around 4:00am. It was a difficulty that I had to go in, but I had made up my mind to perform with all my heart and give my best, my mind was set, it was an issue, so it is what it is,” said Shajar.
The talented sprinter is again without his coach Rana Sajjad, and he does not have any doctor or physiotherapist as a part of the team, unlike the rest of the countries who send their athletes well-equipped with professionals to bring out the best in them.
Pakistani athletes compete handicapped, without the basic resources, and even then produce miraculous results.
Shajar also had a fear of injury, but he said that while in Birmingham he had the services of Pakistan Olympic Association medical committee’s member Dr Asad Abbas, who was serving all the athletes in the contingent and a hockey team physiotherapist, but in Konya there is no one.
“Yes, I’ve had an issue, I was getting by through taping and bracing in Birmingham. It was not that big, but now over here there is nothing. I had Dr Saab and hockey’s physio there, who I’d go to get help but there is no one here. I have travelled and my body’s condition was not good but still, by Allah’s grace, I managed to make the record, now let’s see what happens tomorrow,” said Shajar after his qualification.
In the previous edition of the Islamic Games which fell in 2017 Pakistan’s Abaid Ali and Muhammad Shahbaz qualified for the semi-finals of 100m event. They finished without qualifying for the finals with Ali clocking 10.99 seconds and Shahbaz 10.93 seconds, securing 19th and 21st positions respectively.
About Islamic Games 2021
The Games were scheduled to take place in 2021 but were postponed due to the global pandemic.
Turkey is hosting the fourth edition of the Games and they are the strongest nation among the 55 members of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation with 305 total medals including 95 golds, while Azerbaijan is the second most successful nation with 85 gold medals and 205 medals in total, whereas Iran has 79 gold medals and 178 in total.
Pakistan is in 21st place in overall rankings with only three gold medals that the tennis players Aisam ul Haq and Aqeel Khan won in the Games’ first edition. In total, Pakistan has 15 medals which include three silver and 9 bronze besides the gold.