Young taekwondo gold medallist eyes Youth Olympic Games
UAE-based youngster Ammar Ashfaq was crowned Pakistan’s national champion in his category after he won gold at the 12th Pakistan National Korean Ambassador Taekwondo Championship held in Islamabad recently. Ammar, who turns 15 on Wednesday, beat Umair Ahmad in the final with a 20-4 verdict to show his dominance in the under-68kg category at the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad. The Sharjah boy became the first Pakistani expatriate to win in the National Taekwondo Championship.
Ammar’s win was even more significant as he competed in one weight higher and in the under-17-year age group. His normal category is the under-63kg class.
A Class X student of the North American International School (NAIS) in Dubai, Ammar was thrilled with his first-ever national crown. He was thankful to his coaches for their guidance and training him to achieve another landmark. “Last year, I was defeated in the second fight, but this year I trained hard and entered the competition to win,” he said.
Ammar has capped a good 2017 with his first success coming through a silver medal at the UAE-Korea National Championship in October. He also became the first Pakistan player to represent his country at the French Open World Taekwondo Championship held in Paris in November, while also travelling with the Pakistan National Taekwondo Team at the First WTF President’s Cup held in Tashkent in August.
“My next target will be the Fujairah Open in February after which I will start preparations for the Youth Olympic Games [in Argentina] in October,” he said.
Ammar’s coach Nadir Khan was also pleased his student had punched above his weight. “He is improving gradually, and has shown great progress during the past few months. I am confident he will do well in the upcoming competitions,” Khan said.
Colonel (Retd.) Waseem Ahmad Janjua, President, PTF congratulated Ammar for his gold and expressed hope that the young black-belt would be an asset for Pakistan at international competitions. “Pakistan expatriates in the UAE should be proud of this young lad who is working against all odds and playing an Olympic game with dedication,” he said.
The annual five-day competition was organised by the Pakistan Taekwondo Federation (PTF) with support from the Korean Embassy in Islamabad. More than 1,300 athletes participated along with 120 coaches, 50 technical officials and another 40 national referees in the five-day event that was the largest-ever Taekwondo national championship ever held in Pakistan.
Col. Janjua called on the corporate sector and businessmen to support taekwondo in Pakistan as there is huge potential in the sport at the junior level. “At the same time we need the backing of the President and Prime Minister so that the Pakistan Sports Board and the Sports Ministry provide necessary facilities to the PTF to enable them to compete at the international stage,” he added.
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