Ahmed and Aziz making blind archery history for Pakistan
Earlier today, Pakistan’s Tanveer Ahmed secured Pakistan’s first-ever World Archery Para Championships medal, winning silver in the visually impaired combined competition held at the Dubai Club for People of Determination.
Even more impressive, for Ahmed and his teammate Waleed Aziz, is that these championships in Dubai are the first time the visually impaired archers have ever competed at not just a worlds, but also any tournament outside of Pakistan.
“It’s awesome,” said Ahmed earlier this week to the Asian Paralympic Committee website. “We have come this far and I want to make the most of this opportunity. The journey has just begun and there’s a long way to go.”
Ahmed certainly made the most of his opportunity, going all the way to the final, where he was beaten by the impressive world number two Ruben Vanhollebeke. Speaking after his final defeat, the 38-year-old Ahmed could not quite believe it.
“We came here with the hope of participation so the silver medal is a bonus, something more than what I expected,” he said. “It is definitely a proud moment for me and my entire team to win the first medal for Pakistan in visually impaired archery. I want to work harder now and take the gold next time.”
“I have learnt a lot from Ruben, he is a hero, a legend for me and a dear friend too,” added Ahmed. “I want to dedicate this medal to my family and my coach Muhammad Ijaz, who has been my biggest support and guide. Without him, this wouldn’t have been possible. Dubai will hold a special place in my career.”
Before the bow and arrow, the pair had a different sporting career in mind. They were blind cricketers together for 16 years before moving across to archery, where each has won the Pakistan national championships several times.
“Our life took a new turn with archery,” revealed Ahmed. “When I started para archery in 2017, playing at the world championships was my biggest dream but now I hope it will be included in the Paralympics.”
“For us, archery gave us a new life,” said Aziz, who currently works at the Punjab School Education Department in Rawalpindi.
“The more we shoot, the more we feel good. We get motivated and full of energy and hitting the bullseye is just awesome.”
With competition for the pair over in the United Arab Emirates, they will now return home to further develop the sport, with the silver medal that’s accompanying them in their luggage no doubt helping that work.
Organisations like the Islamabad-based Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness are helping to grow visually impaired archery in the Asian nation. The pair has invested much time and effort into widening the scope of the sport.
“Initially we have done a lot of work; right from the set-up to training. Now at times, we get small funds from various foundations,” explained Ahmed earlier this week. “In Pakistan, we have over 60 visually impaired archers. We also have ground to train and sometimes we train with the Pakistan able-bodied national team.”
Those numbers are impressive. With the buzz of a world championship medal, Aziz is excited about spreading the reach of the sport he loves even further when he lands back home.
“Dubai has given us great exposure and we are talking to the top players here, learning lots of new techniques and tactics,” said the 30-year-old.
“After returning home, we plan to go to other provinces and share our experiences from here with the young players.”
Photos courtesy Yayha Essa (Dubai Club for People of Determination).
Quotes courtesy Priyanka Sharma (organising committee) and Antoni Cichy.
Following the conclusion of the championships, the Dubai Club For People of Determination released a feature on the first visually impaired woman para-archer from Pakistan, Bakhtawar Khalid Kayani.