Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ADDITION: Winter Olympics Debut: Pakistan's Abbas finishes 21 seconds behind top ranked skier

The 24-year-old Mohammad Abbas will be remembered in history as Pakistan's first ever entry in the Winter Olympics. The accomplishment of being here is something he thinks is an "unbelievable honor," according to coach and interpreter, Zahid Farooq. Image Credit: AP

Pakistan's Muhammad Abbas reacts after finishing the second run of the Men's giant slalom at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia. -Photo by AP

Just HAD to add this photo! Sounds like Muhammad Abbas did GREAT 2nd event day!

Where others have coaches, managers and ski technicians, Pakistan and Abbas have Farooq. “I also act as a physical trainer, I keep them on track and make sure they go to training...I am the cook as well,” he said. “And if some equipment is required to be repaired, I do that. (from full version of article below)

Another delightful story about not only Abbas but also his Mentor/Coach/Cook

From Naltar to Whistler AP/Reuters

Here it is in summary:
Pakistan’s first Winter Olympian started skiing by strapping two planks of pine wood to his rubber boots. He honed his skills not through formal training, but by simply studying other skiers on a tiny slope near his home....Farooq, a retired airforce officer, recognised Abbas had talent as an eight-year-old kid on those wooden skis. So he lined Abbas up with real skis and collected funds to send him off for real training. “These boys hypnotised us,” he said. “We are so much in love with their passion that we actually just got together and thought this has to be done.”

In the last two years, we have trained only eight weeks,” his 55-year-old coach, Zahid Farooq, said after a team captains’ meeting. “We had two weeks in Austria in 2008 and six in 2009...We have a very small slope in Pakistan that is only 500 metres long,” he told Reuters...Abbas competed in 10 races last year and is a beneficiary of camps organised by Alpine skiing’s governing body, the International Ski Federation (FIS), to help developing nations.

...“It’s a very inclusive sport, and shows that interest in the sport worldwide is huge,” FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis said. “It’s one of the features that makes the games colourful and exciting.” Abbas definitely has a colourful story. He grew up in a village in northern Pakistan, an area surrounded by mountains. His family couldn’t afford to buy him traditional skis, so his dad carved a pair out of wood.
The lift at the local slope only went up 500 meters – the downhill run at Whistler is 3,105 meters – so he skied the same smooth terrain over and over. He became quite proficient on that slope, on those homemade skis.

“I was the best out of the lot,” Abbas proudly said through his coach and interpreter, Zahid Farooq...Farooq arranges the training, does the cooking and cleaning and serves as an interpreter for Abbas, who is still working on his English...Can he compete with skiers like Miller, Ligety and Svindal? Sure, Farooq relays, if they all had to be on wooden skis. Abbas began to laugh, his little joke losing nothing in translation.

...The 2006 Turin Games came too soon for Pakistan and even now, resources are severely stretched... Farooq has plans to add a female skier to the team for Sochi: “By the grace of God, we will by 2014,” he said. “And I hope to have some Nordic skiers as well.”

From DAWN story earlier:

From Dawn dot com
KARACHI: Pakistan on Tuesday made its Winter Olympics debut when Muhammad Abbas participated in the Alpine skiing event in Vancouver. Many regional Pakistanis show up! He says he arrived where he is today by hard work.

Competing in the event as the 96th skier, Abbas finished with a time of 1.38.27minutes; 21 seconds behind the top ranked skier Carlo Janka of Switzerland and improved his overall ranking by finishing 91st.

Pakistan Set to Make Winter Olympics Debut (Article Wednesday) Find Original at Dawn dot com with probably an active blog conversation to be ongoing in Pakistani media.

Abbas is the lone athlete representing Pakistan at the 2010 Games and participated in the Men’s Giant Slalom category at the Whistler Creekside.

Competing in the event as the 96th skier, Abbas finished with a time of 1.38.27minutes; 21 seconds behind the top ranked skier Carlo Janka of Switzerland and improved his overall ranking by finishing 91st.

He was part of a group of eight Pakistani skiers who undertook a nine-week advanced training-and-competition tour of Europe early last year in a bid to earn points and qualify for the Winter Olympics. A skier automatically qualifies for the Winter Olympics if he has an average of 120 Federation de International Skiing points. Half the team was expected to earn the requisite points, but only Abbas managed to do so.

Ski Federation of Pakistan (SFP), led by its President Air Marshal Hifazatullah Khan, had sponsored the trip and has in fact been providing financial, logistical and coaching support to the selected skiers for the past couple of years.

Abbas’ results:

Time (Diff)
Int 1 20.22 (+4.25)
Int 2 53.17 (+12.12)
Int 3 1:11.38 (+15.74)
Finish 1:38.27 (+21.00)

Yet an earlier article:

Pakistani Makes History as Nations First Winter Olympian

I predict Abbas is going to be interesting and fun to watch over time. So is Farooq who apparently has a heart of gold to choose what's he's doing over another sort of retirement! (Connie)

(See another example of an Olympic expert who's success - even after her beloved mother and lifetime companion just died - is due to ongoing hard work, courage and the support of fans. See blogpost here just below!)


Thinking said...

hhmm...there has been quite advancement in sports from Pakistani players Pakistan stood 2nd in South Asian Games...yet you have shared another exiciting good news with us Dear Connie...for which I am thankful to you...

Most needed news nowadays...thanks.

Connie L. Nash said...

I have high hopes for Mr. Abbas! I was looking for the notice of the Pakistani win of of 2nd in South Asian Games and couldn't if you have found an URL let me know, Dear Thinking...thanx so much for posting.

I love finding and posting good news from Pakistan...there really is so much...we writers will keep discovering...

Let me know what topics you'd like to see for me...I guess you can see they rather run the gamut...

Your Friend and Sister,