Pakistan’s fastest man shares recipe for success and delicious pulao

Updated 06 December 2019

Pakistan’s fastest man shares recipe for success and delicious pulao

  • Sami Ullah won the bronze medal in the men’s 100-meter race at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal
  • He reconciles his sports career with running his father’s pulao business

PESHAWAR: Pakistan’s fastest man, Sami Ullah, who won the bronze medal in the men’s 100-meter race at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal on Tuesday, is all into sports, but he also needs to support his family, which he does with a traditional rice dish – pulao.
“I know that I need time to practice and improve my speed, but I am also aware that my family depends on my pulao sales,” the 25-year-old athlete told Arab News during a phone call from Nepal’s Katmandu on Thursday.
The young runner’s talent has been widely recognized even before he won the gold medal at the National Games in Peshawar last month, when he completed 100 meters in just 10.64 seconds. For comparison, the record of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, for the same distance is 9.58 seconds.

Sami Ullah wins the bronze medal at the South Asian Games in Katmandu, Nepal, Dec. 3, 2019. (Photo courtesy: Sami Ullah)

Under his coach, Muhammad Shah, who as Ullah says “polished” his skills, the runner won gold twice when he was a teenager, in the under-14 and under-19 categories. It was also Shah who kept his spirits up when Ullah thought to give up.
“I injured my foot and treatment took four years. It was a crucial point in my sports career. I was disheartened and my dream of becoming a champion seemed to me an illusion,” he said. But at that time the coach and friends came with support and infused into him new energy.
Besides the coach, there was one more very special person who made his sports career possible.
“Since childhood I’ve been assisting my father at his pulao shop,” Ullah said. While back then the father was not enthusiastic about his son’s athletic career, the young runner found a powerful supporter in his mother, who secretly gave him money to buy vitamins and other things he needed to go on.

In this undated photograph, Sami Ullah runs his father’s pulao stall in Jamrud, Khyber district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. (Photo courtesy: Sami Ullah)

Sports is his passion, but Ullah knows that he must reconcile it with running the pulao business of his father Dilawar Khan. Khan migrated from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s southern district of Bannu to the town of Jamrud in Khyber, where in a roadside restaurant he introduced the delicious pulao variant of his home region.
His father’s recent retirement, gave Ullah sole responsibility for running the shop.
While he has his eyes fixed on bigger goals and wants to wave Pakistan’s flag in international competitions, the country’s fastest man begins his day slowly with cooking utensils, a manual weighing scale, spoons and a huge pot of rice.
His recipe for success is in loving for both his father’s legacy and his own dreams.
“No doubt, it is a difficult task to keep both the family business and my personal dreams alive,” he said. But he attributes his stamina to having many responsibilities. “That’s why I love both my father’s seat and my own goals,” he said.
His recipe for delicious pulao is in proportion. He mixes 25 kilograms of rice with the same amount of meat and cooks it all in a spicy garam masala blend. The spice mix, however, shall remain a family secret.

Ready to mentor Saudi cricketers on the kingdom’s request — Shahid Afridi

Updated 25 min 54 sec ago

Ready to mentor Saudi cricketers on the kingdom’s request — Shahid Afridi

  • Says cricket would be hugely popular in Saudi Arabia given that it is home to millions of Pakistani expats
  • Pakistani minister said this week Islamabad working on “practical steps” to promote cricket in Saudi Arabia 

KARACHI: Pakistani all-rounder and former skipper Shahid Khan Afridi has said he is ready to mentor Saudi cricketers if the kingdom seeks his help.
The comments come in the wake of a meeting between the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, and Pakistan’s Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, this month in which they discussed cooperation in the field of sports, with a focus on cricket.
“If I get a request [to train Saudi cricketers] I will definitely go as this is our own county and the people are our own,” Afridi said in an interview with Arab News at his home in Karachi this week.
The 40-year-old cricketer, fondly known as Boom Boom, captained the national team between 2009 and 2011, before retiring from international cricket in 2017. He is well-known for his philanthropic work across Pakistan and has formerly worked with UNICEF and a number of national organizations.
“I have been to Saudi Arabia previously,” he said, detailing his many trips to the Kingdom. “In my opinion there should be cricket [in Saudi Arabia]. There is our [Pakistani] community, which also likes to play cricket,” he said, referring to three million Pakistani expats who reside in the kingdom.
Pakistani minister Mirza said this week that Pakistan was working on “practical steps” to collaborate with Saudi Arabia to promote sports in the Kingdom, particularly cricket.
“I believe in sports diplomacy,” Mirza told Arab News in an interview on Monday. “The matter [of cooperation in cricket] has been taken with Ehsan Mani, chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board. We are working on practical steps to collaborate in promotion of sports, especially cricket.”
According to a statement issued by Mirza’s office, during her meeting with the Saudi ambassador last week, he said cricket was becoming popular in Saudi Arabia because of the Pakistan cricket team, which had a following in the country.
“We want to utilize Pakistan’s rich experience in the field of cricket and promote it in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Malki was quoted in the statement as saying.