ISLAMABAD: Pakistanis celebrated on Monday the historic win of javelin athlete Arshad Nadeem as he nabbed the sport’s top medal at the Commonwealth Games and became the first from the South Asian country to achieve the feat.
Nadeem snatched the title in a fifth-round throw of 90.18 meters, breaking a new record at the Games where he now holds the title of the biggest throw recorded by a South Asian athlete.
The 25-year-old beat world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who took silver on Sunday evening with a throw of 88.64 meters while Kenya’s Julius Yego took the bronze with an 85.70m throw.
Nadeem’s victory reverberated throughout Pakistan on Monday, as people took to social media to congratulate the athlete and celebrate his win.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Nadeem’s gold win was “amazing news” that brought pride to the country.
“Arshad Nadeem has done Pakistan proud,” Sharif wrote on Twitter. “His consistency, passion, & hard work hold lessons for our youth. Congratulations Arshad on your brilliant achievement."
Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said Nadeem had given an exceptional performance and was the “pride of the nation and our national hero.”
Nadeem, a poor boy from smalltown Khanewal had beaten all odds to become the first Pakistani in history to win javelin gold at the Commonwealth Games. He is one of nine children of a daily wage laborer and had shown great versatility as an athlete from a young age while dabbling in all kinds of sports at school, from cricket to football and badminton.
Though the family lacked financial means to encourage Nadeem’s enthusiasm for sports, the boy’s spirit earned him the support he needed, with his elder brothers working to help him build a career in sports, the family told Arab News in an interview last year.
Nadeem caught the eye of Rasheed Ahmad Saqi when he was only 12 years old, who eventually became Nadeem’s first coach and mentor and trained him for javelin throw.
Nadeem won his first bronze medal representing Pakistan at the 2016 South Asian Games in India with a best throw of 78.33 meters. In 2019, at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal, he won a gold medal with an 86.29 meters games record throw.
Pakistan cricket team captain Babar Azam took to Twitter to tell Nadeem “you made the nation proud.”
Pakistani musician Zuliqar Khan said Nadeem’s story is “a story of a champion.”
“A champion from Pakistan. I don’t remember a better example of perseverance in Pakistan sports.”
The president's office also conveyed congratulations.