Pakistan’s Wrestlers Pessimistic

Pakistan’s Midas-touched  wrestlers Azhar Hussain and Muhammad Inam played down their chances in the Commonwealth Games, saying a lack of international match practice had hurt their chances of repeating their golden performances.

Hussain, 30, won a gold medal in 55-kg freestyle wrestling in the Games held in New Delhi in 2010 and added a silver in the Greco-Roman 55-kg category.

Inam won a gold in the 84-kg freestyle four years ago to keep Pakistan’s traditions of faring well in the Games’ wrestling competition.

But both Hussain and Inam said being able to compete in international events over the last four years would hit their chances at Glasgow Games starting today to August 3.

“I am not fully prepared,” Hussain told AFP. “When you don’t compete in international events regularly then you feel a void and that’s what my feeling is.

“We had a one-and-a-half month preparation camp but your chances are only boosted when you compete at international level, we didn’t and it will need a big effort to win a medal now.”

Lack of funds and a long-standing feud between two rival factions of the sport’s national governing body, the Pakistan Olympic Association, meant neither wrestler was sent to the 2013 World Championship in Hungary or the Asian Championship in Kazakhstan in April.

Hussain, whose 2010 gold-medal performance to beat Nigeria’s Ebikewenimo Welson brought joy to his flood-hit hometown of Muzzafargarh said he was not hopeful of repeating the feat.

“I want to give the same happiness to my people but this time the task is huge, I will do my best, said Hussain who will now compete at 57-kg.

Inam, who will be in action in the 86-kg class, agreed.

“Delhi Games made us stars but the next four years we remained idle,” he lamented. “The rest of the world competed at various events and there have been a lot of rule changes in this time but we haven’t gotten used to them.

“This could be a big handicap for both of us, but let’s hope that our efforts bear fruit,” said Inam, who beat India’s Anuj Kumar in the 2010 final.

Pakistan have won 29 medals in Games’ history since competing for the first time in Vancouver in 1954. Of these medals, 16 are gold, eight silver and five bronze. — AFP

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