Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Islamic Solidarity Games, which were supposed to be held from the 20th to the 29th of August 2021, were rescheduled to August 2022. However, since it’s an international event, many pandemic conditions of all the participant countries were kept in view. It’s an initiative that was started in 1981 by the then-president of Youth Welfare of Saudi Arabia.
The first event took place in 2005 when people from 54 countries participated. It currently has 57 countries as its members, which are directed and controlled by OIC and ISSF. The 2021 Islamic Solidarity Games were the 5th edition in Konya, Turkey. In this event, 4200 athletes from 54 countries participated in 28 games with a medal count of 341.
Pakistan also participated in the event with many achievements and few disappointments. Earlier this month, PSB reduced the contingent from 122 to 76 but tried to accommodate all the athletes. Pakistan participated in athletics, judo, archery, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, table tennis, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling, karate, swimming, and taekwondo at the event.
Pakistan selected five archers, including Umm-e-Kulsum and Kiran Muhammad. They made it to the top thirty-two, while Sadia Mai cruised to the next round after defeating UAE’s archer by 7-3. In the initial game, Umm-e-Kulsoom got 560 points, Kiran scored 532 points, and Sadia received 492 points.
Among men, Nauman Saqib reached the round of thirty-two by winning against Kazakhstan’s archer with a score of 6-0, while unfortunately, Abdul Rahman Hafiz was defeated in the first round of elimination by Kuwait’s archer with a score of 6-5.
In athletics, Pakistan decided to send eight of its most efficient athletes. In the men’s 100-400m race Shajar Abbas and Abdul Moeed participated. Shajar Abbas made it to the top fifteen in the semifinal and Jamshed Ali was among the ten participants who made it to the final level of men’s shot put.
At the same time, Arshad Nadeem made Pakistan stand out in men’s javelin throw by breaking all the records and achieving a gold medal. Ahmed Randhawa, a national competitor in the 400-meter hurdle race, was unable to perform well and was eliminated from the medal race. Arooj Kiran, a sprinter, failed to advance to the next round after placing last in the 100-meter race.
Pakistan sent only one fencer who couldn’t perform well and was knocked out in the first round of the men’s épée event.
Among six swimmers from Pakistan, Jahan Ara broke her national record by standing in the 5th position, while Bisma Khan made it to the final round and remained at 8th. The former clocked 1:02.11, while Bismah completed in the span of 1:02.59. Both young girls were part of the team which won the women’s 4x200m freestyle bronze medal in the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games held in 2017 in Baku.
Pakistan sent only three weightlifters to the event where Muhammad Nooh Dastagir Butt, despite his ailment, reached the 4th position after getting a gold medal for Pakistan at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Altaf-ur-Rehman won the bronze medal in the para table tennis event, making Pakistan proud. Altaf had joined with Uzbekistan’s Rasul to contest in the men’s class four competition, and both managed to win the bronze medal. The 23-year-old defeated Algeria 3-0 but couldn’t win against Iran and Turkey.
In the sad state of affairs, none of the karatekas from Pakistan won the karate competitions at the 2021 Islamic Solidarity Games. However, the team consisted of great players like Saadi Abbas, the first-ever Asian Champion in 2011 and who won a silver medal in the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku.
While Fakhr ul Nisa made it to the quarter-finals in the women’s -60kg category, she defeated Karateka of Cameroon in the first round. In the type of 68+ weight, Kulsoom Hazara was defeated by a karateka from Morocco, while an athlete defeated Nargis Hazara from Cameroon.
In volleyball, Pakistan was trounced by Turkey, the host country, in the 39th position in FIVB, while Turkey was in the 17th. Pakistan was leading in the first and fourth rounds but failed to win. It also failed against Iran with a score of 0-3 and against Qatar with a score of 2-3.
The wrestling squad of Pakistan faced the unfortunate event as Muhammad Inam Butt, who’s made Pakistan proud at different events by winning several gold and silver medals, couldn’t participate in the 2021 Islamic Solidarity Games due to a knee injury.
As a result, Pakistan had a setback and could send only a few of its good wrestlers, including Muhammad Asad Butt, Muhammad Bilal, and Nouman. They performed inadequately in the challenging event in which famous Islamic world grapplers participated.
The event had peaks and valleys for Pakistan as the fifth Islamic Solidarity Games concluded in Konya, with 341 medals, including 145 gold, 107 silver, and 89 bronze on the medal table. With Arshad Nadeem’s javelin throw, Pakistan took 27th place and earned its only gold medal in the games. The other closest Pakistani athlete to a medal was Nooh Dastgir Butt, who placed fourth.
Iran came in third with 39 gold medals out of a possible 133, followed by Uzbekistan in second place. Imran Ali fell 2-0 in karate to a Saudi Arabian opponent on the fifth and final day of competition. He had earlier lost to an Azerbaijani opponent to go to the semifinals. Against a Moroccan opponent, Kalsoom also dropped. Pakistan experienced some of its biggest letdowns due to Shah Hussain in Judo and Saadi Hussain in karate, as these were knocked out in the first round of competition.
PM Shahbaz Sharif met the medalists in Islamabad to praise and appreciate their efforts in representing and making Pakistan proud on international platforms. He also announced the cash prize for the winners and encouraged them to do better in their fields by aiming for the highest rank.
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