Pakistan’s Waleed Aziz in action at the Dubai 2022 World Archery Para Championships.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Pakistan’s visually impaired archer Tanveer Ahmed was trying hard to adjust his equipment for the perfect shot.
He was aiming to hit the bull’s eye as coach Muhammed Ijaz stood just two metres behind, updating him of each shot.
At the Dubai 2022 World Archery Para Championships, Ahmed and Waleed Aziz are first visually impaired archers from Pakistan to shoot not just in a World Championships, but outside Pakistan. And both the archers wanted to make the debut “memorable.”
And they definitely did with a brilliant show at the Dubai 2022 event. Ahmed even went to take hia first international medal, a silver losing to Belgium’s world champion Ruben Vanhollebeke 6-0 in the Visually Impaired 1 finals.
“We came here with the hope of participation so the silver medal is a bonus, something more than what I expected,” an overwhelmed Ahmed said.
“It is definitely a proud moment for me and my entire team to win the first medal for Pakistan in visually impaired archery. I want to work harder now and take the gold next time.”
“I have learnt a lot from Ruben, he is a hero, a legend for me and a dear friend too,” added the 38-year-old Ahmed, who is physical trainer for Blind Cricket team in Islamabad. “I want to dedicate this medal to my family and my coach Muhammad Ijaz, who has been by biggest support and guide. Without him, this wouldn’t have been possible. Dubai 2022 will hold a special place in my career.”
Ahmed’s junior compatriot Aziz however faltered in the pre-quarter-finals. Nevertheless, it was a “proud moment” for both the players to make their international debut at a World Championships.
“It’s awesome,” said Ahmed, who has low vision and shoots blind folded, and added, “We have come this far and I want to make the most of this opportunity. The journey has just begun and there’s a long way to go.”
“When I started playing para-archery in 2017, playing at the World Championships was my biggest dream. Now I hope the visually impaired category is included in the Paralympics.”
Both the archers, who were national champions several times, were blind cricketers for 16 years before they took up archery. “We both played Blind Cricket together in Pakistan. But our life took new turn with archery.”
“For us, archery gave us a new life. The more we shoot we feel good. We get motivated and full of energy. And hitting the bull’s eye is just awesome,” said Aziz who was an all-rounder and currently is High Principal in Punjab School Education Department, Rawalpindi.
The duo also admitted that Paralympian Haider Ali’s historic gold medal for Pakistan was a “big motivation” for the para sport fraternity in the country.
Talking about the support for visually impaired archers in Pakistan, Ahmed said it is a new sport in the country and there’s foundation like Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness who are supporting the Visually Impaired archery. “Initially we have done a lot of work; right from the set up to training. Now at times, we get small funds from various foundations.”
“In Pakistan, we have over 60 VI archers. We also have grounds to train and sometimes we train with the Pakistan abled body national team,” the 38-year-old said about the facilities.
And Aziz, who has no vision since birth, hoped their performance in Dubai will inspire many other visually impaired archers back in Pakistan.
“After returning home, we plan to go to other provinces and share our experiences from here with the young players.”