Punjab athletes shine in diverse sports at Rising Punjab Games 2024

Under the guidance of Wahab Riaz, Adviser to the CM on Sports and Youth Affairs, and the vision of Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi, the Punjab Sports and Youth Affairs Department has initiated a series of groundbreaking reforms over the past year, aimed at revitalizing the sports landscape in the province. 

The department's transformative agenda includes the establishment of a Rs two billion Sports Endowment Fund, the creation of a two-year Annual Sports Calendar, a pioneering Sports Club Registration Campaign, and the foundation of the Institutes of Sports Sciences Punjab (ISSP). Wahab Riaz expressed that these initiatives are designed to "provide a clear pathway for young athletes to develop their talents and represent their country at all levels." 

Raja Jahangir Anwar, Secretary of Sports and Youth Affairs Punjab, elaborated on the systematic organization of sports events under a comprehensive development plan, which includes monthly stipends for top athletes through the Rising Punjab Games in Diamond, Gold, and Silver categories. 

Dr. Asif Tufail, Director General of Sports Punjab, announced the Annual Sports Calendar's lineup, including the Rustam-e-Punjab Dangal, and highlighted the allocation of 40 percent of the budget towards athletes and sports activities. The calendar aims to ensure all athletes are well-informed of their event schedules, cash prizes, and scholarships. 

The Rising Punjab Games 2024, a multi-sport event spanning from January 18 to February 4, concluded with the exhilarating Rustam-e-Punjab Dangal at Punjab Stadium. Multan's Sanwal Jhakar Pehlwan clinched the title after a gripping 34-minute match against Awais Tairanwala Pehlwan of Sahiwal, leading to a prize pool distribution of Rs 26 lakh among wrestlers. 

The event showcased six sports – hockey, volleyball, football, badminton, athletics, and table tennis – across three phases. The Faisalabad division emerged victorious in both hockey and volleyball during the initial phase, with their hockey team narrowly defeating Sargodha and their volleyball team sweeping Gujranwala. 

The second phase saw Lahore's football team edge out Faisalabad, while in badminton, Ghazala Siddique of Sargodha and Anjum Bashir of Gujranwala won the Women’s and Men’s Singles titles, respectively. The team events were dominated by Lahore and Rawalpindi in women’s and men’s categories. 

The final phase featured table tennis, with Lahore's Kalsoom Khan and Taimur Khan winning the singles titles. Additionally, Faisalabad division secured the Women’s Athletics title, while Sahiwal division triumphed in Men’s Athletics. 

Wahab Riaz and Dr. Asif Tufail honored the winners, reinforcing the department's commitment to nurturing sporting talent. These measures mark a significant step towards establishing Punjab as a hub of athletic prowess, with a focus on providing athletes the resources and recognition they deserve.

Azhar Khan is an accomplished senior sports journalist with extensive experience in the field. He can be reached at azharmasood786@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @azharmasood786

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