KARACHI: Eyeing a seat in the 2024 Paris Olympics, the country’s solid judoka Qaiser Afridi on Monday requested the federal government for patronage for the next two years to achieve his Olympics dreams.
“It’s a great honour for me that at such a young age I am here to undergo training for the major event of Grand Slam, which is also the first qualifying round for the 2024 Paris Olympics,” Qaiser told ‘The News’ from Mongolia in an interview.
Mongolia is going to host the Grand Slam in Ulaanbaatar from June 24. In the two-day event, Qaiser and three other Pakistani fighters are expected to participate. They are Mohammad Hasnain, Haseeb Mustafa and Mohammad Hamid. However, they need an NOC from the government for this. Whether they are going to participate will be decided on Tuesday (today).
“You know it’s just the start. I am confident I can do well in the Grand Slam here but I will need proper support on my way to the Olympics. I will need to feature in more than 20 qualifiers during the next two years and for that I need state support as the federation does not have the resources,” said Qaiser, who last year won bronze in the Asia-Oceania Junior Championship in Beirut.
“Olympics is the dream of every athlete and I am no different,” he said. “Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF) is also backing me as it wants me to make it to the Olympics and I will not disappoint anyone,” Qaiser said.
“I have achieved top fitness and I have improved technically. I have done good training here, having played with fighters of Mongolia and Italy and am ready for the Grand Slam,” he said. “Yes, one thing I am missing here is that in this competition phase I need partners here as all nations are training separately and you cannot train with any other nation,” Qaiser said.
He said that he is in touch with his coach. “I am in touch with my Iranian coach Sajjad Kazmi. I am very excited and want to do something stunning for the country in the Grand Slam,” he said.
Qaiser will feature in the -100 kilogramme competition in the Grand Slam, the weight category in which he will also participate in the Commonwealth Games, pencilled in for July 28 to August 8 in Birmingham. He said that he is learning from the training environment in Mongolia.
“One can learn a lot here, the confidence you need and the sort of maturity you require as a top player. So it’s very pleasant for me to come here a few days in advance for the nine-day raining which is a great experience,” Qaiser said.
Tokyo-based Olympian Shah Hussain skipped Grand Slam due to an injury. Shah these days is training in his hometown in Tokyo under a Japanese coach. He is also set to feature in the Commonwealth Games along with Qaiser. Qaiser will make his Commonwealth Games debut while Shah will feature in the quadrennial event for the second time. He won silver on his debut back in 2014 in Glasgow.