PSB to set up Biomechanics Lab in Islamabad, World Class Physical Training Center in Skardu
KARACHI: Over the years, Pakistani sports authorities have largely ignored one of the vital aspects needed to turn talented youngsters into world-class athletes: fitness.
While the sports world has seen a fitness revolution over the past three decades, Pakistan has been left behind with most of its sportspeople still deprived of modern equipment and training.
And it shows in their performance.
Pakistan’s last Olympic medal — a bronze medal in hockey — dates back to 1992 in Barcelona. Their medal tally in other international events like the Asian Games has also dropped. Even in sports like squash and hockey, in which Pakistan were undisputed world champions, there has been a complete decline.
Experts believe that one of the reasons for Pakistan’s sporting downfall is that the country’s athletes lag far behind their counterparts from major sporting nations due to the lack of proper facilities.
But in a very positive development, things are expected to change for the better for domestic athletes in the near future.
A senior national sports official told ‘The News’ in an exclusive interview that efforts are being made to bring about a step change in physical training infrastructure for elite national athletes with a series of milestones which include the establishment of a state-of-the-art biomechanics laboratory and a world-class high altitude physical training facility.
Col. Asif Zaman, Chief Executive of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), said it is high time that steps were taken to bring national athletes up to par with world-class sportsmen by improving their physical condition.
“It is clear that our athletes need to improve their physical condition and that can only be done with the help of proper equipment and training,” he said.
“We have been working on this aspect and are close to achieving key objectives,” he added.
Colonel Asif, a former junior squash champion and younger brother of Pakistani squash legend Qamar Zaman, says the biggest development in terms of building fitness infrastructure will come in the form of a world-class biomechanics lab. order.
“You can’t have world-class athletes without a biomechanics lab,” he said.
According to Col Asif, the lab will be established at the PSP Sports Complex by the end of this year.
The biomechanics lab will be created with the help of Qatar’s renowned Aspire Academy.
“We bought the best equipment to set up the lab. We are going to call on experts to equip the laboratory and train our staff in its operation. »
Col Asif said the lab will cater to national athletes in a variety of sports, helping them improve their fitness and perhaps more importantly avoid injury.
The history of Pakistani sport is littered with serious but preventable injuries to its top athletes who ended their careers prematurely. Eight-time Open world champion Jansher Khan had his career cut short due to a knee injury at 29. The injury ended his reign as world No. 1 for a record ten years.
“At the time, I had no knowledge of ways to prevent such injuries,” Jansher told ‘The News’. “It’s the same again today for our athletes, which is very unfortunate,” he added.
Currently, one of the leading athletes in the country facing fitness issues is star javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem. Pakistan’s top medal hope for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Arshad is suffering from an elbow problem and could be forced to undergo surgery.
“A lot of injuries can be prevented with the help of biomechanics,” said Col Asif.
Techniques such as mathematical modeling, computer simulations, and measurements are used in biomechanics to improve performance and reduce injury. It also helps identify optimal movement patterns to improve sport-specific techniques.
At present, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) operates the only biomechanics laboratory in the country.
PSB’s next big goal is to establish a high altitude fitness center for the country’s elite athletes at Skardu, located at an altitude of almost 2500 meters.
“We have acquired suitable land to establish a full-fledged training center in Skardu for top national athletes as well as juniors,” Col Asif said.
“Efforts are underway to establish a world-class physical training center in Skardu. We can hold camps there throughout the year for athletes from different disciplines,” he added.
Col. Asif said the PSB has also requested the Pakistan Army to set up a national fitness academy at the Pakistan military academy in Abbottabad.
“We have talked about the possibility of having a fully-fledged National Fitness Academy in Abbottabad. The Pakistan Army has extensive facilities and experienced trainers and we believe that national athletes can fully benefit from this.
Over the years, various national sportsmen including cricketers, hockey players and athletes have attended training camps with army coaches in Abbottabad. Col Asif now hopes the Academy will be transformed into a full-time physical training center for national athletes.
“Everyone talks about our athletes’ inability to win medals in events like the Olympics,” he said. “We should instead make more and more effort to provide our athletes with the facilities and training they so badly need. Once that happens, I’m sure we’ll start winning medals.