Some Lesser Known Facts About Arshad Nadeem
- Arshad Nadeem is a Pakistani track and field athlete who competes in the javelin throw.
- Growing up in Mian Channu, he would often head to the ground to watch Pakistan’s popular rural sport Nezabazi (tent pegging) in which horsemen show their daredevilry. On his father’s insistence, who was passionate about Nezabazi, Nadeem took up the sport and became a regular at the town’s sprawling grounds, exposing him to different outdoor sports.
- An exceptionally versatile athlete since his early school days, he dabbled in various sports like cricket, badminton, football, and athletics. However, his passion for cricket transcended other sports and led him to play it at district-level tape-ball tournaments.
- When he was in seventh grade, he caught the attention of Rasheed Ahmad Saqi during an athletics competition, who then took him under his apprenticeship. Saqi had a reputation for developing sportspeople in Pakistan.
- In an interview, Nadeem’s father talked about his humble household and said,
I used to earn 400-500 per day on contract labour at that time and it was tough to manage things for all the children. But I made sure that Nadeem would get milk and ghee to become a well built youth. I did not want him to work like me and I always wanted him to lead a good life, which he has ensured with his performances.”
- However, after a couple of years, Arshad had to make a choice between cricket and athletics. Inspired by his two elder brothers, both of whom were athletes at the divisional level, Nadeem chose athletics after a thorough discussion with his coach. In an interview, while sharing the dilemma of leaving cricket, he said,
Leaving cricket behind was not easy, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. My father was a labourer, we didn’t have the required resources or contacts to make it pro in cricket. My school’s PT [physical training] teachers Ajmal and Zafar looked after me well and helped me adjust to the change.”
- Initially, he pursued shot-put, discus throw, and javelin throw in athletics. Later, he dropped discus throw and shot-put, focusing solely on the javelin throw after being influenced by his father, Muhammad Ashraf.
- In 2015, he started his journey as a javelin thrower.
- Winning Gold medals in subsequent Punjab Youth Festivals and an inter-board meet roped in offers from the leading domestic athletics teams in Pakistan, including Army, Air Force, and Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA).
- When the 2015 National Championships were just around the corner, Nadeem appeared in their trials, where he managed a throw of 56 m. Although the scouts on duty dismissed him saying that he would never be a 60 m+ athlete, his potential was recognised by Syed Fiaz Hussain Bokhari, who inducted him into the camp for the championships. Within a month, when Arshad secured a gold medal in the inter-department championship with a throw of 69m, Bokhari, became his permanent coach.
- Thereafter, he started representing Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA) in domestic competitions.
- On his last try at the 2015 National Championships, he broke the 70 m barrier, the distance widely regarded as a qualification mark for international selection then. At 18, Arshad became the national champion, booking his place in the South Asian Games (SAG) 2016 squad. The victory also secured him a permanent job a WAPDA.
- At SAG 2016, Guwahati, he made acquaintance with his Indian counterpart Neeraj Chopra, who was then an 18-year-old upcoming athlete like Arshad himself.
- At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, Arshad broke his own national record in the qualifying round but injured himself in the process. While recalling the tournament with a tinge of sadness in an interview, he said,
I was in good form. I was throwing 80m plus in training. In qualifying, I was ahead of Neeraj and the Indian coaching staff looked scared. But I wasn’t able to perform to my maximum in the final due to the injury.”
- He was the sole representative of Pakistan at the 2019 World Athletics Championships (Doha). He missed out on qualification to the final but broke the national record with a throw of 81.52 m.
- At the 2019 National Games of Pakistan, he defended his national champion title with a record of 83.65m.
- On 7 December 2019, Arshad created history at the South Asian Games in Kathmandu by smashing the national record with a throw of 86.29m, securing a gold medal and surpassing Chopra’s games record set in 2016 by four meters. Additionally, he secured direct qualification for the 2020 Summer Olympics (Tokyo) and he became Pakistan’s only track and field athlete to qualify directly for the Olympics. Dawn
- For Tokyo 2020, the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) sent Arshad on a two-month training period to Nanjing, China. However, the trip was cut short due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- His father stated that Arshad was not provided even a good training ground facility prior to Tokyo Olympics 2020. He also revealed that Arshad underwent training in his own house’s courtyards and streets and did not receive any financial assistance from the Government of Pakistan after being qualified for the Olympics. He added that the expenses of sending Arshad to Multan, Faisalabad, and Lahore for practice were completely borne by him.
- On 4 August 2021, he qualified for the men’s javelin throw event final of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first-ever Pakistani to qualify for the final of any track and field event in the history of the Olympics. India Today His throw of 84.62 m secured him fifth rank at the Olympics; meanwhile, Neeraj Chopra won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 with a mark of 87.58 m and became the first Indian to win a gold medal in track and field.
- After the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Neeraj Chopra, during an interview, stated that his javelin was being used by Arshad Nadeem before the final. The statement was blown out of proportion as many believed that Nadeem was tampering with Neeraj’s javelin. Later, Neeraj took to Twitter and clarified that athletes often use personal javelins of each other, appealing to everyone to not promote unnecessary propaganda. WION
- In July 2022, he also became the first ever Pakistani to qualify for the final of any event at the World Athletics Championships, Eugene, Oregon. The Express Tribune Despite carrying an elbow injury, he managed a performance of 86.16 m, his season’s best throw, securing the 5th position.
- His epic win came on 7 August 2022 when he became the first Pakistani to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the men’s javelin throw event, becoming the first South Asian to breach the 90m mark. The Bridge
What a superb performance from Arshad Nadeem!
He earns Pakistan their first track and field Gold after 60 years 🥇🥇, setting precedence with a new Games record.
— Commonwealth Sport (@thecgf) August 7, 2022