25-year-old athlete Arshad Nadeem is on a roll. Six days after his outstanding performance at the Commonwealth Games 2022, Arshad made the country proud again on Friday at the Islamic Solidarity Games when he won a medal for the best throw ever at the multi-sport event involving elite athletes from members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Arshad’s best attempt came in his second throw at 88.55m after he opened on 79.40m. His third throw reached a distance of 75.50m and his fourth and fifth throw were 82.40m and 83.33m respectively.

Arshad Nadeem is without a doubt one of Pakistan’s finest athletes and if he is properly supported, he has the potential to be ranked among the top athletes of the world. Last week, Arshad won the top medal at the Commonwealth Games in a fifth-round throw of 90.18 meters, setting a new record at the games where he now holds the title of the biggest throw recorded by a South Asian athlete. This feat also secured Pakistan’s first athletics medal at the Games since 1966.

Arshad’s achievement appears even more impressive considering that he was competing with an injury. It is noteworthy that Arshad Nadeem hails from a small town, Mian Chunnu and comes from an underprivileged family. Without expensive lessons, professional coaches and other amenities that athletes are provided with around the world, this young man defied his circumstances and through sheer strength, ambition and luck, fought all odds to represent Pakistan on the international stage.

The government cannot allow Arshad’s talent to not be properly utilised. He must receive proper treatment and training, and must have an infrastructure around him like other top athletes do. Arshad’s story is special and inspiring and it is heartening to see how his family members sacrificed so much to help him get here, but there are many others like him who perhaps lack such a support structure. This is why we need an investment at the grassroots level so that talent can be nurtured.