KARACHI: Sports is probably the only undisputed unifying factor for Pakistan. Since Pakistan’s independence on 14th August 1947, sports have brought laurels for Pakistan.
After emerging as new country, Pakistan’s first major sports assignment was Olympic Games 1948 in London. 35 member contingent from Pakistan took part in London Olympics. Although, Pakistan couldn’t win any medal but the Hockey team played semi final and finished fourth to announce its arrival on international arena.
Pakistan’s success in sports commenced in early 50s, first major sports victory by any Pakistani athlete came 1951 when Pakistan’s Hashim Khan downed Egypt’s Mahmoud Karim to win the British Open Squash Championship. The win launched Pakistan’s 13 year’s unchallenged dominance in the tournament, led by Hashim Khan, Roshan Khan, Azam Khan and Mohibullah Khan.
In 1952, Pakistan won first team championship in any event when country’s Football team jointly shared the Colombo Cup’s title with India. Pakistan beat Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Burma but settled for a goal-less draw with India to become the joint winner of inaugural Colombo Cup.
The same year Pakistan Cricket team played its first Test, against India, in Delhi. They lost the inaugural Test, but came back strongly to win the second of series in Lucknow by an innings and 43 runs to register country’s first ever win in Cricket.
Cricket later went to become Pakistan’s most famous sport. The country has won all major ICC titles with 1992 World Cup, 2009 World T20 and 2017 Champions Trophy.
Asian Games in 1954 saw Pakistan emerging as a successful sporting nation as country’s athletes won five Gold medals.
Din Muhammad won first-ever official Gold medal for country in a multisport event. He downed Japan’s Yushu Kitano to win the Gold medal in 52kg wrestling event of Manila Asian Games 1954.
This was followed by Pakistan’s dominance in wrestling which later won us several Asian Games and Commonwealth Games medals.
In same event, Abdul Khaliq became the fastest man of Asia by winning the gold medal in 100m sprint. Muhammad Sharif Butt won Gold medal in 200m. Mirza Khan won 400m while Muhammad Nawaz won Gold medal in Javelin throw event for country.
Masood Fakhri of Pakistan Football team became the first-ever player from South Asia to score a hat-trick in an international match when he made three consecutive goals in Pakistan’s 6-2 win against Singapore during 1954’s Asian Games.
In 1954 Commonwealth games, Pakistan’s Muhammad Iqbal won the Gold medal in Hammer throw event.
Pakistani athletes continued with their winning spree at following events. In 1956 Olympics Games at Melbourne, Pakistan won its first ever Olympic medal. A silver in Hockey event, after going down fighting against India in the final.
Two years later, Pakistan won first major gold medal in Hockey event by winning the Gold medal in Asian Games. They later won 8 Asian Games gold medal.
Pakistan also avenged the Melbourne’s defeat in Rome to win the first ever Olympic Gold medal. 1956 Olympics was the only time when Pakistan won two medals in an Olympic event. The second medal won by Wrestler Muhammad Bashir, a Bronze – first ever individual Olympic medal by a Pakistani. Boxer Hussain Shah won the only second individual Olympic medal in 1988, another Bronze in 1988.
Pakistan’s first major success in Boxing came in 1962 Asian Games when Muhammad Safdar and Barkat Ali won Gold medals in light heavy weight and heavy weight categories in Jakarta.
Team comprised of Byram Avari & S/Lt. Munir Sadiq won first major Gold medal for country in water sports when they won Asian Games Gold medal for country in 1978.
Pakistani athletes have also won world championship of four different sports; Hockey, Cricket, Squash and Snooker. With all these countless success to their credit, one shouldn’t hesitate in claiming that Sports is, probably, the only thing which has always made the nation proud and they’ll continue doing so.