KARACHI: Pakistan’s premier karateka and Olympic hope Saadi Abbas has reached Paris to feature in the Karate 1-Premier League which kicks-off Friday (tomorrow).
“I have reached Paris. Tomorrow will be registration and draws and the competitions will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Saadi told ‘The News’ from Paris on Wednesday. This will be another vital step for Saadi to get himself closer to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Saadi, currently ranked 23 in the Olympics rankings, will need big strides during the next few months in major events to carve a niche in the world’s most prestigious extravaganza in which karate would make its debut.
The two-time Commonwealth Championship and US Open gold medallist still has to compete in five more events and he stands with a chance to qualify. The Karate 1-Premier League is the most important as it has more points after the World Championships which helps an athlete to strengthen his position.
Over 700 competitors from 92 countries have confirmed their participation in the 2020 Karate 1-Premier League Paris. “I am quite confident. I have made a strategy on how to play in this event,” Saadi said. “There are a few new boys from Kazakhstan and Brazil and it will be seen how they are. But I have done my job and will try to pull off the best possible results,” he said.
Saadi’s priority will be to make it to the games directly. If he fails to do so then he has also a chance to earn one of the two special seats which are usually allotted to athletes of nations who have very small representation in Olympics.
Meanwhile, the country’s top judoka Shah Hussain also applied for France and Germany visas on Wednesday, his father Hussain Shah told ‘The News’ from Japan. “He has applied for visa and he will hopefully get it,” Hussain said.
Shah is set to feature in a couple of Grand Slams to be held in Paris from February 8-9 and in Germany from February 21-23. Shah, who had represented Pakistan at the 2016 Rio Olympics, has already achieved continental quota as he is Asia’s top seed and needs just to maintain it till the end of the qualification phase until late May.
However, a senior official of the Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF) told this correspondent the other day that Shah’s main objective is to make it to the Olympics directly. So far three shooters including Gulfam Joseph, Ghulam Mustafa Bashir, Khalil Akhtar, javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem and Usman (equestrian) have qualified for the Olympics.
Besides Saadi and Shah, a taekwondo fighter Haroon Khan is also determined to press for an Olympic seat. National boxers are also aiming to press for seats in the Asian qualifiers to be held in Wuhan, China, from February 4-14 and world qualifiers in Paris in May.