Difficult but not impossible | sports



Difficult but not impossible

nThe local wrestlers are getting ready to start their training for the 2024 Paris Olympics Qualifiers. This time the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) seems serious about providing ample opportunities for the budding wrestlers to try their luck and secure some berths in the most prestigious event in the world.

I can write with authority that our wrestlers have the ability to achieve milestones that seem a bit difficult but not impossible. But PSB will have to keep the Gladiators constantly in camp for the next year and a half until the end of the playoffs. We’ve seen in the past few events our wrestlers have gone onto the international circuit without reaching their peak due to one or two month camps and that too in the toughest situations.

I have to say if they get systematic training of longer duration with foreign training in between and wide international exposure by having them in all the ranking events then I am sure we can make a cut at the Paris Games 2024.

The big problem is how to boost the fitness level of the wrestlers. Long and continuous training and superior nutrition are the best tools to achieve the goal.

Even at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, our wrestlers were found to be below the required level of physical fitness.

Any normal approach will not get us into the Olympics. We need to handle wrestling in a professional way. Wrestling is the only discipline in Pakistan in which we have great chances of becoming the best in the world.

Besides the highly experienced wrestler Mohamed Inaam, we also have young talent in Inayatullah Youth Olympic bronze medalist, Mohamed Sharif Taher and Mohamed Bilal who can do wonders if trained smartly for the main task.

The authorities, both PSB and the Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF), will need to coordinate effectively and make a valiant effort to help these wrestlers in the next year and a half. This time we have a little time. We will also need to field our wrestlers in the Asian Championships which are mandatory – only those wrestlers will be able to participate in the Olympic qualifiers that participate in the continental events.

Fortunately, the perfect weather is soon. And unlike last summer when the wrestlers had a hard time preparing for the Commonwealth Games, the first few months of training for the Olympic qualifiers will be in the winter.

The PWF asked the council to put 30 wrestlers and two officials into camp. It would be important to give about five months of training camp to wrestlers on foreign soil in two phases. The first three months should be given before the 2023 World Championships and then two months of training is required before the Continental and World Qualifiers that will take place in 2024. Iran and Kazakhstan are ideal destinations for training. In these countries, wrestlers will not have any problems with diet as halal food can be obtained.

Ukraine is also a good training center but there players will face food issues. I hope the authorities will make a good decision in the coming months.

Our wrestlers need great partners to train with which is why we stress foreign training. For example, in the 86 kg category, there is no better athlete than Inam of Pakistan. How will he train here? This is a big issue. Unless the top crop is provided with foreign coaching opportunities, they will not improve.

A coach will also have to be sent out on foreign tours with the wrestlers so that he can monitor the entire workout which will help him handle things deftly when he deals with players in international events.

The PWF will also need some sponsors to carry out its plan. I hope our wrestlers will have full support in their Olympic performances.

United World Wrestling (UWW) has already released the 2024 Paris Olympic Qualifiers Qualifying Track. According to the track, the Olympic Qualifiers time frame will be from September 16, 2023 to May 12, 2024.

There will be a three-pronged qualification track: World Championship 2023, Continental Qualification 2024 and World Qualification 2024.

As many as 288 wrestlers will compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics – 192 men and 96 women. The 2023 World Seniors Championship, which will take place from September 16-24, will see five competitors in each weight class qualify for Paris 2024.

The gold, silver and two bronze medals will qualify for the winner’s side in the battle between the losers for the bronze medal.

As per the rules, 2 bronze medals will be awarded via the recycling process which will include all those wrestlers who lose to the finalists.

The World Championships will be followed by the 2024 Continental Qualifying Stage through which the best wrestlers in each weight class will qualify for the Olympics. This event will be held from April 12-14.

The last qualifying tournament will be the 2024 World Qualifiers, which will be held from May 9-12. The winners of the gold and silver medals and the winner of the battle among the bronze medalists will qualify.

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