ISLAMABAD, 9 August 2004 — The only woman in Pakistan’s Olympic track and field team for Athens has ruled out targeting a medal and has instead set herself the humble ambition of not finishing last.
“I know the star-studded line-up in the 1,500 meters leaves me nowhere in the medal race but for me the main thing is that I don’t come last,” Sumera Zahoor told AFP.
Pakistan’s 45-member contingent for the Athens Games beginning next week includes two female athletes with 16-year-old Rubab Reza set to become the country’s first female swimmer to jump into an Olympic pool.
Before Sumera, Shabana Akhtar became the first ever female athlete to represent Pakistan in an Olympics when she competed at Atlanta 1996.
Shazia Hidayat featured in the Sydney Olympics four years later.
“Shabana and Shazia were established athletes and I am just four years into athletics but I would try to do my best and gain experience which would help me in the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar,” Sumera said.
“It’s an honor to represent your country in the Olympics but I want this honor with grace so that I am not ashamed of myself,” said the 24-year-old.
The International Olympic Committee allows member countries which do not qualify from lead up events to send at least one male and female athlete to compete in track and field events at the Games.
“Since our standard is far behind other countries, we can’t qualify for the Olympics, so I am going there on invitation and would like to improve my personal record,” said Sumera. Her first participation at the international level was at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, where she finished the 1,500 meters race with five runners behind her. Sumera won a silver medal in the South Asian Federation Games in Islamabad in March this year.
“Winning a silver medal in the SAF Games with a Pakistan record of four minutes 31 seconds is my greatest achievement,” said the Rawalpindi resident.
“You achieve something when you get competition and at the SAF Games I was pushed hard by an Indian athlete so I hope to better my record in Athens.” She said she was a novice to Olympics but her desire to compete was enough for her.