Pakistan’s Paralympian Haider Ali won the country’s first-ever gold in the Discus throw event at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics on Friday. Haider had already won silver at Beijing in 2012 and a bronze at Rio in 2016 in the long jump event earlier.
Haider Ali threw the longest 55.26 metres throw in his total six attempts and to seal the top spot. Ukraine and Brazil with a throw won silver and bronze medals with 52.43 and 51.86 metres throws.
Ali had to overcome countless challenges to touch this milestone. He, in an interview, said that his training was disrupted due to the pandemic as the training facilities were closed and he missed out on training in the crucial days. He added that in spite of all the challenges he had to keep going and prepare for Tokyo.
Ali also expressed his concerns over the government’s attitude that they lend no helping hand to the para-athletes. There were travel issues as the Media Director Huma Bag of the National Paralympics Committee (NPC) had shared that the tickets for Tokyo were bought at the eleventh hour. The committee was shunned by the government until the Punjab Government-assisted them in facilitating the tickets.
The gold-medalist was acutely disappointed in the fact that the government had not played its part. He reiterated that the training was a challenge but the real test was the time before the competition when they faced abandonment from the government and were troubled by travel issues.
Ali in his interview also appealed for equal support and coverage of the para-athletes as provided to the Olympians.
Talha Talib- A Pakistani top weightlifter who made the country proud in the Tokyo Olympics by securing fifth place in the 67kg weightlifting event, hailed Ali as the hero and the legend of Pakistan and seconded Ali that he should get all the support he needs in Paralympics Tokyo.
Ali also suffers from cerebral palsy- a condition in which his right side is weaker than his left side. However, even the disability could not stop the legend from inspiring the world. Ali expressed his wish in an interview that he wants to be a role model for the people having disabilities and who do not compete in sports.
The national hero returned to the discus throw event this year in Tokyo Paralympics after winning two medals in the long jump and made history by finishing on the top of the podium. He made Pakistan proud by winning the first-ever gold for the country against all the odds and variances.