ASHGABAT: Pakistan Saturday took off with a flying start winning a gold, a silver and four bronze medals on the opening day of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, which are formally to be kicked off Sunday with over 6000 athletes from 65 Asian countries taking part in 21 different disciplines.
Pakistan’s Shahzeb Nawaz and Muhammad Rafique in men duo show final upset Thailand on a better points and stunning demonstration witnessed by a jamp-packed indoor complex. The duo earlier upset Turkmenistan’s twin brothers Ahmad Tanriberdiyew and Yousaf Tanriberdyew, after taking a bye in the opening round.
Shahzeb and Muhammad Rafique secured 45 points against 44.5 of strong Thailand pair, leaving a difference of 0.5. It was a close fight. Both the players thanked the Almighty by kissing the floor on winning the first gold medal of the games for Pakistan .
Talking to APP, Shehbaz Nawaz and Rafique said they had undergone hard training back home. After recording a victory against the host Turkmenistan, winning the gold medal was their target. Turkmenistan was a strong team and their defeat had boosted their morale that they could also beat Thailand, they added.
Meanwhile, Pakistan grabbed two silver and three bronze medals in jujitsu and one bronze medal in traditional wrestling. The duo of international Abu Hurrara and Ammar grabbed silver medals by defeating Tajikistan and then claiming the golden point when their fight with Thailand tied on 80 points each. They later lost the gold medal fight to host Turkmenistan.
In women duo show classic event, Sonia Manzoor and Komal Emmanul grabbed bronze medals with Thailand won the gold medal and Turkmenistan took silver medal respectively. Pakistan lost to Turkmenistan and Vietnam, and defeated arch-rival India.
In the women duo show, the same pair won the bronze medal with Thailand won the gold medal and Turkmenistan the silver medal, and in the mixed duo classic, Pakistan’s another pair of Shahbaz Nawaz Janjua and Rafique Siddique lost to Turkmenistan and Thailand and recorded victory against Tajikistan to grab a bronze medal.
In the traditional wrestling Ambareen Massih won bronze medal in 58kg weight while her sister Humaira lost. Earlier, 135-member contingent of Pakistan led by Chef de Mission Amjad Ali Khan was warmly received by Turkmenistanian Olympic officials. The Turkmen children chanted slogans: “Llong lasting Pakistan-Turkmenistan friendship” at the bird-like newly constructed international airport like other 65 participating countries of Asia. Pakistan is taking part in nine different Games comprising Athletic, Belt Wrestling, Free Wrestling, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Traditional Wrestling, Tennis, Taekwondo, Kick-Boxing, Weightlifting.
Meanwhile, all is set for the formal opening ceremony of the much-anticipated event on Sunday evening with Ashgabat illuminated with multi-colour lights, colourful fountains and multi-banners on the roads leading to the Olympic City.
In a media briefing Chairman Olympic Committee of Asia Charles Lo, CEO Games James Bulley and Operation Manager Games Annasuket KAKAYAV said Turkmenistan was the first Central Asian country to host any of the OCA events and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berglimuhamedow along with dignitaries, including President Mamnoon Hussain of Pakistan would grace the formal opening ceremony on Sunday.
The ceremony will be held at the newly built Ashgabat Olympic Stadium. The impressive venue located at the center of the complex is a one of a kind facility and set to leave a long lasting legacy for Turkmen sports, especially as a football and athletics venue.
With the 45,000-seating capacity olympic stadium, Ashgabat boasts some truly impressive numbers, with a massive cast of characters, incredible feats of engineering and infrastructure, intricate arrangements in catering, and a slew of other preparations completed to accommodate the incoming athletes from Asia and Oceania.
There are 45 countries of Asia and 19 Oceana countries, as well as one refugee team competing under the Olympic banner – a first for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. The number of sports slated for the Ashgabat 2017 programme, including everything from Belt Wrestling to Track Cycling, with four of those sports part of the Olympic Games programme. There are 351 medal events and a total of 1870 medals would be awarded. A total of 15 different venues prepared according to international needs for the competitions spread out across the 1.5 sqr-km Ashgabat Olympic Complex. Out of the 15 venues 13 venues are newly built, with state of the art facilities at par with the best in the world, while two facilities have been fully upgraded for the games.
There are 700,000 numbers of tickets available for spectators to view the 220 sport sessions on the Ashgabat 2017 programme, with ticket costs between 7-10 TMT (US $3). There will be 7000 young performers prepared for the most awaited opening and closing ceremonies with 8000 devoted volunteers helping the visitors to this beautiful Ashgabat City, famous at White Marbal City.