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Triumphant rowing teens return home

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by July 19, 2017 General
PHOTO COURTESY: Abdul Rahim Babai

PHOTO COURTESY: Abdul Rahim Babai

KARACHI  : Pakistani teenagers, after bagging a bunch of medals at the 2017 International Schools Invitations Race Regatta in Beijing, China, returned home to Karachi over the weekend.

Of the 35 rowers sent to the regatta, Convent of Jesus & Mary School’s Manahil Hussain and Aaleen Hussain won bronze in women’s double scull, and Karachi Grammar School’s Rafeh Junaidy, Saara Ghani, Babar Majeed and Parsers Uqaily also brought home second runners-up medals, thanks to their showing in the mixed quadruple event.

However, The CAS School’s Ammar Allana, 16, and event debutant Haroon Saeed, 13, were the best of the bunch, clinching gold in the double scull event and making the country proud.

“Winning the event was amazing,” Ammar told The Express Tribune. “It was such a proud moment for us, even more so because Haroon is so young. In fact, I’ve literally seen his improvement during our training at the KBC.”

Regarding the competition itself, Ammar added: “It was tough as we had 25 rivals, most of them from China and Malaysia, who were both very sharp.”

The Chinese, in particular, left a lasting impression on Ammar. “They are a very hardworking nation,” he said. “Even in this competition they were dominant. Meanwhile, Malaysians were in the final with us. It wasn’t easy to win, but we worked hard and sprang the big surprise.”

The regatta was featuring teams from several countries, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and hosts China.

Ammar will now be preparing for the national championships before heading for the Asian juniors trials.

Pakistan Rowing Federation Senior Vice-President Abdul Rahim Babai was also impressed, saying he is proud of the teenagers’ feat.

He, however, reminded that the organisers were in violation of rowing’s governing body FISA’s rules as the children not only had to practice in China in below-par conditions but also the Chinese team had three boys and one girl in the mix quadruple event instead of the standard formation of two boys and two girls.

“There were problems with the organisation,” said Babai. “Our kids are used to better training conditions, and then the way they kept their team in the mix quadruple event was also unfair. But I’m proud of our teenagers because they won despite the odds against them.”

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