The curtain has fallen on the 34th National Games in Quetta and scintillating performances of Sindh’s stunning swimmers Hareem Malik and Meher Maqbool will be remembered for long.
Every province had its share of medals and performances, but for Sindh, the brilliant performance of rising swimming star Hareem Malik won the most number of gold medals from the Sindh contingent as she clinched three gold medals in the Games’ swimming discipline while her compatriot Meher Maqbool of Sindh also won a gold medal to take the tally to four gold medals for their province in the swimming events.
Hareem Malik, 14 year old, won gold in 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke contests while 13-year old Meher Maqbool bagged a gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle swimming at the Punjab International Swimming Complex in Lahore. Hareem clinched top honours in the 100m breaststroke, clocking just one minute and 23.21 seconds. Both the talented teenagers have attributed their success to their hard work and the efforts of their coaches and the support of their families, particularly their parents, who made sure that they are provided the best environment and training necessary for success on the sports front.
“My mother personally accompanies me to the training sessions and her support has been vital for me,” Hareem said. The same is the case with Meher Maqbool, who says that her mother is very supportive and makes sure that she attends every training session and gain in confidence.
Both the swimmers said that their coaches worked very professionally, adding: “Our coaches drafted a fine schedule for us in a way that our studies and sports training maintained a perfect balance. We are also really grateful to the Sindh Swimming Association for its tremendous support. The officials encouraged us in every way and informed us about any competition two months in advance which helped us prepare well and earn these feats for Sindh.”
Speaking about the hurdles the sportswomen face in the society, the young swimmers said that though the ratio of girls’ participation in sports is much low as compared to males, they are given the best opportunity by the sports authorities and concerned associations and are treated at par with their male counterparts in each aspect of the swimming competitions which is a very encouraging factor. “We have not observed any discrimination against us as girls, either at the training session or in the events,” said Hareem and Meher.
Meher, however, added that the only thing our sports authorities should focus on is to build competitive infrastructure and facilities for the athletes. “We lack bigger, better equipped swimming pools and this area should be worked on and developed,” she added.