“It was so much fun to run on a proper track,” said Pakistan’s Mueed Baloch, nicknamed Pakistan’s Bolt after the icon Usain Bolt, who is looking to make his place in the 400m sprint final at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Konya, Turkey.
Mueed is a bright youngster who has silver and bronze medals from the World Athletics events in Imam Reza International tournament, Mashhad, Iran and Kazakhstan earlier this year. He qualified for the Islamic Solidarity Games semi-finals in 46.75 seconds on the clock, where he finished fourth in his heat.
The three heats in Konya were a tough competition, and Mueed who trains in Karachi at the National Coaching Centre’s choppy track, believes that he is making improvement but the international athletes take the lead primarily because they have better facilities and coaches.
Mueed is a silver and bronze medallist at the South Asian Junior Athletics Championships as well.
The 21-year-old is also without his coach Roma Altaf or any team of professionals to help him guide through the event.
“I want to win a medal and the competition will be tough,” Mueed told The Express Tribune after his qualification for the semi-finals.
“I am trying my best and I want to make new records at least for my country, but there is a very tough competition.”
Mueed made the new national record in Iran this year, with 46.73 seconds in May and bagged a silver medal.
Mueed wants to be in the Olympics as well and believes that with his speed he can improve if facilities are provided.
Help athletes, help Pakistan
Mueed’s humble request from the government and the sports bodies is to make sure that athletes have their coaches with them at the international events and improve the facilities for the players.
“Whenever we go anywhere they ask us what we do, when we tell them that we are sprinters, athletics is our field, people do not recognise our efforts or take us seriously. Of course what Arshad Nadeem achieved has helped us so much, but now the government should pay attention to us, we need help and we’ll win medals for Pakistan,” said Mueed.
He pointed out that he had to talk to his coach regularly through phone, which is not the same as a coach being at the venue when the athlete is performing.
“When we look at the athletes from other countries, we see that they have coaches, physiotherapists, they have facilities. In Karachi, where I run the track is so bad.
“I have gotten injured so many times running on the National Coaching centre track that I can’t even count anymore. The track here in Konya is nice and bouncy and I feel so good running on it, it was fun,” said Mueed as he went off to prepare for his semi-final.