Pakistani Cricketer-Turned Javelin Thrower Wants to Emulate Neeraj

Nadeem settled for a bronze with a personal best of 80.75m where Neeraj threw a national record throw of 88.06m.

Asian Games
2 min read
Neeraj Chopra and Arshad Nadeem greet each other at the medal ceremony. Neeraj won the gold while Pakistan’s Nadeem bagged the silver medal.

Seeking to walk in the footsteps of Neeraj Chopra, who won Gold in the javelin throw event at the Asian Games, Pakistan's cricketer-turned-javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem hopes to emulate the Indian star some day, even though he fears that the gulf between them is too huge.

Nadeem settled for a bronze with a personal best of 80.75m at the ongoing Asian Games, where Neeraj was the undisputed star of the field with a national record throw of 88.06m on the night Monday, 27 August.  

The 20-year-old from Khanewal in Pakistan’s Punjab is aware that he has a mountain before him to climb.

"Neeraj is an amazing talent. I have competed with him about eight times now, including the SAFF Championships in India and Asian Junior Championships. But he has a foreign coach and I don't. His achievements inspire me and my goal is to emulate him one day, maybe beat him too," Nadeem told PTI.

The imposing Pakistani played U-17 cricket at the state level before picking up the javelin, around three years ago.

A fast bowler in the U-17 team, Nadeem would use both his arms while running in, much like Pakistan ‘s left-arm pacer Sohail Tanveer.

I used both my arms but I was a right-hand fast bowler unlike Tanveer bhai. Like India, cricket is big in Pakistan, but then I was introduced to javelin three years ago and ever since then, I have stopped following cricket.
Arshad Nadeem

"Jis raah jaana nahi uska rasta kya dekhna (why to even look at the path which you are not going to take),” said Nadeem, who is from a humble rural family and is employed with the WAPDA (the country's electricity board).

Nadeem wants to discuss the tricks of the trade with the Indian athlete, but says Neeraj is not very forthcoming.

“Neerj bhai jawaab hee nahi dete (he hardly responds to my whatsapp messages). He has done that only a couple of times and after that he stopped. I don't know the reason for that.”

May be he is busy. I just meet him during tournaments. He’s got a great technique and I am sure he enjoys full support from the government. I have never trained overseas and that makes a huge difference.

Nadeem came to Guwahati for the South Asian Championships in 2016 and fell in love with India.

"It was a memorable trip. We came to Amritsar from Lahore by road. Aap log badi khatir or izzat karte ho (you people are great hosts). I would love to compete in India again," Nadeem added.

(This article has been published in an arrangement with PTI)

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