BIRMINGHAM: It seems to be a tough event for the two-time Olympian judoka Shah Hussain who will be seen for the first time in his international career flexing his muscles in the -90kg weight category as he competes in the Commonwealth Games here at the Coventry Arena on Wednesday (tomorrow).
The Japan-based fighter is quite confident he can win the gold medal. “I will go for gold,” Shah told ‘The News’ here on Monday. Shah was the only Pakistani judoka who claimed silver in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the minus 100 kilogramme in which he has played his entire career so far.
Judo was not part of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Having featured in the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Shah is a great medal hope for the country in the quadrennial event in which the nation is still waiting for its first medal.
Shah may break that jinx on Wednesday when he faces Australia’s Harrison Cassar in the quarter-finals directly as the weight category has only six entries. “I will do my best to win all the fights. The players in my weight are of my level. I should beat them to clinch the gold medal,” Shah said.
Shah trained in Japan for the event under a Japanese coach but he does not have a coach here. However, he is mature enough to manage things by himself. The fluctuating England weather is not an issue for him. “I came here the other day and everything is fine here. I have adjusted and am ready for the show,” Shah said. Qaiser Afridi, Pakistan’s other judoka in the Games, will be pitted against New Zealand’s Jason Koster in the -100 kilogramme weight category round of 16.
Qaiser’s weight carries 14 entries and the majority of the fighters in his group have vast experience. However, Qaiser is quite confident. “I have worked hard and am perfectly fit and will click inshaAllah,” Qaiser told ‘The News’. “Although all the fighters in my group are tough and experienced, I have also worked very hard both abroad and on home soil,” Qaiser said.
“Having come back from the Grand Slam held in Hungary recently, I underwent some tough training at home under the Iranian coach Sajjad Kazmi who is in contact with me and keeps guiding me,” Qaiser said.
A senior official of Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF) told ‘The News’ that they expect a medal. “Let me tell you that in the draws of both our fighters, there are highly experienced players but Shah and Qaiser can do anything on a given day. They are quite young as compared to their opponents. Let’s see how it goes,” PJF vice-president Masood Ahmed told ‘The News’ from Pakistan.