PESHAWAR: Sending waves of jubilation across the country, a nine-year-old girl from Pakistan’s scenic Swat Valley brought home the country’s first gold medal by winning big at the 8th Fujairah Open Taekwondo Championship in the UAE held from Jan. 31 to Feb 2.
“This is your medal. This is Pakistan’s medal. Now, my daughter is eyeing the Olympic Games,” Ayaz Nayak, Ayesha Ayaz’s father, told Arab News from UAE on Monday.
Nayak, who is a national-level athlete himself, said that Ayesha had undergone intense training from the age of three to participate in taekwondo competitions across the world.
“It is her second international tour. In the first foreign tour, she had secured a bronze medal in the 27-KG category at the 7th Fujairah Open Taekwondo Championship,” he said, adding that with this win, she had “raised his expectations” even more.
“A bright future is in store for her, and I’m envisaging her as the first Pakistani girl to win a gold medal in the upcoming Olympics,” he said of his nine-year-old daughter who is Grade 4 student in Swat – a tourist resort in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Ayesha has already earned distinctions in sport at the local, provincial, and national levels, Nayak said.
With his own taekwondo academy and an International Public School in Swat which offers free education to orphans, Nayak says Ayesha’s win boils down to the fact that everyone in his family is driven by a love for the sport.
“Besides Ayesha, I have two sons, Muhammad Zaryab Khan and Muhammad Ziyab Khan, who are also national champions. My wife has also secured silver and gold medals in national games,” he added.
Nayak said he was overwhelmed by the number of congratulatory messages he had received, even before embarking on his scheduled trip back to Peshawar on February 6.
Hazer Gul, a resident of Swat who works in the development sector, told Arab News that the people of Swat were all set to extend a warm welcome to Ayesha who had brought laurels not just to the area but the entire country, too.
“Our country needs persons with extraordinary qualities to come forward and bolster the image of Pakistan globally. Ayesha deserves all respect,” Gul added.