AFP looking to retain Liebenberg for World Athletics

KARACHI: The Pakistan Athletics Federation (AFP) wants South African coach Terseus Liebenberg to accompany the country’s top javelin thrower, Arshad Nadeem, during the World Championships in Athletics to be held in Oregon, in the United States, July 15-24.

“Yes, we want to have his services during the World Championship. We are working on it and I hope he will go with Arshad to the United States,” AFP secretary Mohammad Zafar told ‘The News’ on Saturday.

Terseus Liebenberg currently coaches Arshad and second Pakistani javelin thrower Mohammad Yasir at the North West University campus in Potchefstroom, a town 120 kilometers from Johannesburg.

Arshad is a big medal hope for Pakistan at the World Championship. After finishing fifth at the Tokyo Olympics last year, Arshad has his sights set on the global event and during an interview with this correspondent recently, the Asian Games bronze medalist said he was more “focused” on the American event.

This will be Arshad’s second time competing in the World Championship since his last appearance at the Doha World event a few years ago.

Arshad will return to Pakistan in May as the visa he is training on in South Africa is 90 days.

“Yes, both athletes will be back in May as they have been granted South African visas for 90 days. And inshaAllah in seven to ten days we will be securing American and South African visas for Arshad who will then return to South Africa and s will train there until the world championship for which he will travel to the United States directly from Johannesburg,” said Zafar.

“We have taken up the matter with the US Embassy and hope that Arshad will get a US visa in a short period of time,” the official said.

“And we will also decide in May whether we should send Yasir back to South Africa or not,” Zafar hastened to add.

Arshad will be the only player to represent Pakistan at the world championship in the United States.

After competing in the world championship, Arshad’s next target will be the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8.

Meanwhile, AFP plans to field six male athletes, along with two officials, in the 2nd Imam Reza Cup to be held in Mashhad from May 29-30. The trials to choose the athletes for the Iranian event will take place at the Punjab Stadium Lahore on April 26-27.

AFP has also set up a national camp, with 60 male and female athletes at PSB Coaching Center Lahore with the collaboration of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to prepare for the 14th South Asian Games which Pakistan will host in early 2023.

AFP said in an official statement on Saturday that AFP President Major General (Retired) Mohammad Akram Sahi visited the camp on April 14. The statement said Sahi enjoyed the renovated facilities at PSB Coaching Center Lahore and was also impressed with the diet. served to athletes during training camp.

During his visit, Sahi advised athletes and coaches to adopt training techniques based on scientific research that will yield the desired results. The AFP chief also warned athletes and coaches to avoid the use of performance-enhancing substances, which is illegal and punishable under AFP and WADA laws. He said these illegal drugs are detrimental to human health and cause irreversible harm to athletes who use them. The AFP president said AFP only asks athletes to work hard and bring discipline into individual training.

“We’re not asking you to break records overnight,” he told the athletes.

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