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Special athlete Hussain’s plight is worsening

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KARACHI:

The family of Pakistan’s bronze medallist at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games Imran Hussain is requesting the Government to help. The last assistance they received for Imran’s cancer treatment was merely Rs10,000 from Pakistan’s Baitul Mal last month.

Imran has been inspirational in his athletic journey. He won a medal at the 2013 Asian-Pacific games in long jump and then won bronze at the World Games in Los Angeles with the football team as the goalkeeper. Imran has multiple disabilities, including hearing and he communicates through sign language.

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He started playing sports in the school for special needs persons and went on to compete at the national level, then regional and later at the World Games. He was good at multiple track and field disciplines, but in 2018 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

His family had been appealing for help for a long time now. Fund raising by overseas volunteers and help through donations brought in some money, but it had not been enough to carry on Imran’s treatment. His cancer progressed quickly and as of this month, the doctors have told his family to prepare for the worst, according to Imran’s brother.

It had been a year that the family had been struggling and they have sold their property, and the sole bread-winner of the household Asif Hussain who has been taking care of Imran also lost his job.

“We have nothing left anymore. We sold everything for the treatment, and Imran is dying because we don’t have money,” Asif told The Express Tribune.

“It is very simple, people can only be charitable for a little while, but we needed help from the government or we needed help in a way that was more constant. We are now broken in every way.

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“Our appeal was to help us take Imran abroad too because the doctors in Pakistan have been less than hopeful, however, with our own research, we had found out that Imran’s treatment was possible and he had good chances to recover.

“But now he is growing weak by the day, and we are not able to even manage the daily expenses for the family, let alone Imran’s treatment. We have sold everything and have nothing left. I went to different government offices too, but no one helped. I have also lost my job and the condition is getting worse. We need help.”

Imran’s case has been raised many times in the media, but the agony of the family has remained the same.

President of Pakistan Arif Alvi recently spoke to a delegation of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), where he talked about supporting the persons with special needs, “who form 12 to 14 per cent population of the country and needed to be uplifted financially by providing them jobs and equipping them with marketable skills with the special cooperation of the business community,” according to a report.

In Imran’s case, Asif said that in order to even avail the sum of Rs10,000 through a cheque, they were facing trouble in opening an account in Hussain’s name.

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“We couldn’t get those Rs10,000 because Imran couldn’t get to the bank because of his condition. He is bedridden and even though I took him to bank once with great difficulty, the bank has been taking the longest time to get back to us and have told us they have certain reservations.

“It is just that we are running out of time, and we are considering now to return the cheque to Pakistan Baitul Mal now, because Imran can’t go to the bank, and I am already out of work,” Asif said, ruing the fact that he did not even have enough money to have enough credit in his phone to make contacts in case he needed help.



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Fans finally get up close at Izu velodrome

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TOKYO:

After more than a week of spectatorless Olympic arenas, fans arriving to the Izu Velodrome on Monday to view the action at close quarters are a welcome tonic for the beleaguered Games.

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A 50% capacity of up to 1,800 is permitted at the track cycling venue up in the forested hills near Mount Fuji, outside Tokyo, where tougher Covid-19 restrictions apply.

These ticketed fans will become the first at these Games to watch events inside a venue, though thousands did line the roads for the cycling road races on the opening weekend, and there were spectators at events including the mountain biking and triathlon.

Some even watched the BMX action from a bridge in Tokyo’s Ariake Sports Park over the weekend.

On rainy Monday morning, a steady stream of fans arrived at Shuzenji station, the closest link to the Izu velodrome, 130km (81 miles) west of Tokyo, many of them having taken the shinkansen bullet train up from Tokyo.

“I’m a big fan of cycling,” said 46-year-old Hiroyuki Oyama, arriving with his wife. “I applied for tickets for every cycling competition and this is the only one I’ve won.”

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A 10-year-old fan wearing an official Olympic T-shirt said it was “fun to be here”, but added she would not tell her friends, who were so disappointed not to be able to watch the Games.

Not everyone was pleased to see the Games come to town, with several elderly protesters shouting anti-Olympics comments at the station.

Had Tokyo organisers stuck to their original plan to build a new $100 million velodrome in Tokyo, the world’s best track cyclists would have been riding around in near silence this week, except for the whirring of their wheels.

Instead, to reel in ballooning costs, it was decided to use the Izu resort, a cycling theme park, where the silver-domed velodrome built in 2011 nestles in the forests.

Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, were not keen on the move, saying it would rob athletes of the Olympic village experience and prove difficult for fans to travel.

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As it turns out, riders will have their Olympic experience enhanced by having fans track-side.

The first of seven days of track action, which will see 12 gold medals awarded, was due to start at 3:30pm local time, with the women’s team sprint gold medal being decided later on Monday.



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Breakout stars of the Tokyo Olympics

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TOKYO:

The Tokyo Olympics crowned a number of new champions who announced themselves on the world stage. Here are some of the breakout stars:

Italy’s Jacobs produced arguably the shock result of the Olympics – and one of the biggest shocks in Olympic history — when he claimed victory in the 100m, storming out of athletics obscurity to take gold in a time of 9.80sec.

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A few days later the 26-year-old helped Italy win a 4x100m relay gold, capping a remarkable transformation for a sprinter who had never broken the 10-second barrier this season and whose previous career highlight was this year’s European indoor 60m title.

Tatjana Schoenmaker announced herself on the Olympic stage in style when she smashed the women’s 200m breaststroke world record to claim South Africa’s first gold in the pool since 1996.

The 24-year-old had already won silver in the 100m and threatened Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen’s 200m world benchmark in the heats, joking she wished her fingernails were just a bit longer.

But Schoenmaker needed no help from a manicurist to clock 2min 18.95sec in the final and clip 0.16s off Moller Pedersen’s record.

The South African gave a surprised scream when she saw her time on the board, promptly bursting onto tears and sharing a group hug with her competitors.

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The absence of 2012 and 2016 champion Kohei Uchimura – plagued by shoulder problems — cast a long shadow over the men’s all-around gymnastics competition.

But 19-year-old Japanese Daiki Hashimoto more than filled his compatriot’s sizeable shoes, becoming the youngest-ever champion.

Hashimoto edged out China’s Xiao Ruoteng and Russian world champion Nikita Nagornyy with a superb final horizontal bars routine, then stayed dry-eyed on the podium despite the scale of his achievement.

“Had I cried, I thought it would have been as if were feeling satisfied with where I am now,” said the nerveless teen.

“I thought the champion must not cry but only look forward.”

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Japanese 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya captured hearts when she won the first Olympic women’s skateboarding street gold — beating an even younger rival into second place.

Nishiya became one of the youngest individual gold medallists in Olympic history when her stunning sequence of tricks put her ahead of Brazil’s Rayssa Leal – 127 days her junior.

Her performance mirrored that of Japan teammate Yuto Horigome, who won the men’s title the previous day.

Nishiya, who was one of many teenage tyros ripping up the skate park as the sport made its Olympic debut, said she wanted to celebrate by eating at a barbecue beef restaurant.

She also became the youngest athlete ever to win a gold medal for Japan.

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“I’m so glad to become the youngest at my first Olympics,” she said.

“Tears came to my eyes.”

At just 19 years old, Mu announced her arrival on the biggest stage of all with a spectacular victory in the 800m, becoming the first American winner of the event since 1968 with an assured wire-to-wire performance to take gold.

Mu, whose parents moved to the United States from Sudan before she was born, is expected to add the 400m to her repertoire, raising the prospect of a 400m-800m double at the 2024 Paris Olympics.



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Tokyo douses Olympic flame closing pandemic Games

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TOKYO:

Tokyo doused its Olympic flame on Sunday in a ceremony that echoed the restraint of a Games held without spectators and transformed by the global pandemic, dazzling sport and deeply person turmoil.

After postponing the Tokyo 2020 Games for a year, organisers said the event would serve as a symbol of world triumph over the pandemic. But with strict pandemic countermeasures and as Covid-19 variants have surged back around the world, the Olympics fell short of the triumph and financial windfall Japan had wanted.

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The ceremony, although lustreless, gave athletes something of a glimpse of everyday Tokyo life as the Olympic Stadium was transformed into a park with grass, buskers and BMX riders.

The scene was meant so the visitors could “experience Tokyo”, organisers said, a poignant reminder of the many restrictions of the Games.

It was a duly odd ending to an unprecedented event. Japan is now saddled with a $15 billion bill, double what it initially expected, and with no tourist boom.

The president of the International Olympic Committee thanked the Japanese people and acknowledged the difficulty of staging the Games during the pandemic.

“For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together,” Thomas Bach said. “Nobody has ever organised a postponed Games before.”

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PUBLIC ANGER

Public anger over the pandemic response and a slow-to-start vaccine roll-out have badly damaged Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s standing. Public opinion polls showed most Japanese opposed holding the Games during the pandemic.

Still, organisers appear to have prevented the Tokyo Games from spiralling into a Covid-19 superspreader event, notable given that some 50,000 people came together amid the pandemic.

In a sign of the measures, winners accepted their prizes from trays, putting the medals around their own necks, although social-distancing protocols such as preventing hugging were largely ignored throughout the Games.

While the bubble https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tale-two-cities-bubble-tokyo-outside-2021-07-29 – the set of venues and hotels to which Olympic visitors were largely confined – appeared to hold, elsewhere some things fell apart. Fuelled by the Delta variant of the virus, daily infections spiked to more than 5,000 for the first time in Tokyo, threatening to overwhelm its hospitals.

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Japan’s record medal haul https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020/olympics-japan-exceeds-its-own-record-medal-haul-at-tokyo-2020-idUSL1N2PF019 also helped to take out some of the sting for organisers. The United States finished top of the tally https://graphics.reuters.com/OLYMPICS-2020/MEDALTALLY/rlgpdynkjvo with 39 gold medals, one more than rivals China at 38 and Japan at 27.

The Games also showcased the Olympics’ push for more diversity.

For the first time, a victory ceremony was held for both the women’s and men’s marathon event. The Kenyan anthem filled the 68,000-capacity stadium twice, for gold medallists Peres Jepchirchir and Eliud Kipchoge.

COLD WAR AND ‘TWISTIES’

And when they came, the Games themselves provided plenty of high drama.

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In a moment more reminiscent of the Cold War, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a flight home after she was taken to the airport against her wishes. She has since sought refugee status in Poland.

U.S. superstar gymnast Simone Biles shocked the world when she pulled out of five of her six events, including abruptly abandoning the women’s team final after attempting just one vault, citing concerns for her mental and physical health.

Her frank admission, combined with earlier comments by Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, brought a sharp focus on issues of athletes’ mental health.

In athletics, Italy provided a different kind of shock with their amazing run. Their wins included a stunning gold in the men’s sprint relay https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/athletics-on-fire-italy-storm-astonishing-sprint-relay-gold-2021-08-06, taking their athletics gold tally to five.

In swimming, a United States team without 23-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps still ended the meeting on top of the medals table.

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Capping five years of intense preparations for athletes, some of them stretched out on the grass laid down in the stadium. Some appeared to relax as they watched a volley of fireworks light up the Tokyo sky.

In the end, two massive screens stadium projected a retro display that called back to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics: the word “ARIGATO” or “thank you”.



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