Sportspersons in Pakistan are always struggling to find reasonable financial and moral support from the government. In the past, Pakistan has lost a gem like Hussain Shah, who brought Pakistan their second-ever individual medal in Olympics, but at the end, he was so mistreated that he left Pakistan for Korea. Now, there are many athletes who suffer the similar pain, WBC Silver Flyweight Champion, Mohammad Waseem and MMA fighter Ahmed Mujtaba, are just two names to mention in the context who recently caused a fair bit of stir.
Pakistan’s most prolific bodybuilder, Atif Anwar is afraid that if Pakistan government continues to ignore the local athletes, there will be a time when sports will go completely extinct in the country.
“I have been living in Australia for the last six years, but still I believe Pakistan is the best country with an abundance of talent in every sport, only if the government supports them, they can do wonders in the field of sports for the country,” told Atif Anwar while talking to ARY Sports.
“However, if Pakistan government does not pay attention to local athletes, there will be a time when sports will go completely extinct from the country,” warned the bodybuilder.
“Our athletes do not get tickets, they do not have enough money to reside in hotels in foreign or afford food,” he added.
Atif Anwar, who is the former Mr. Pakistan, South Asian gold medalist, Asian silver medalist, world no. 4 and the Arnold Classic winner in Australia, left Pakistan after getting disheartened as no one was willing to sponsor him. He contacted government officials, but all he received was acknowledgments.
“I could not see my future in Pakistan, I wrote letters to the government officials multiple times, I got acknowledgment every time, but never received a reply from them,” he told. “If the current bodybuilders will not get any backing from the government, they may also end up following my footsteps and leave the country for their own good.”
Anwar gets mixed feelings when he sees the increased interest in the youth for bodybuilding and so many talented individuals in the gym working on their physique. “I feel happy to see such talented individuals, but at the same time, I feel bad for them as they might end up wasting their skills due to lack of support,” he added.
“I urge the government and the Chief of Army Staff to help these people, they need their moral as well financial support to succeed at the highest level,” he added.
The bodybuilder has no regret of leaving Pakistan as he believes he could not have achieved that he has gained so far if he had stayed in the country. In fact, when he moved to Australia, he was not contacted by any local concerned authority to come back to Pakistan and represent the country.
“No one contacted me and I know the reason. The federation here wants to save their crown, I am a kind of person who contacts gyms, gives free sessions there, trains budding athletes, but the federation does not like me to do this,” he revealed.
He also revealed in the interview that the Australian federation has asked him to invite three of the top Pakistan bodybuilders to compete in Arnold Classic event every year, which is a huge opportunity for the locals.
Anwar recalled the moment when he won Arnold Classic event in Australia and his childhood hero Arnold Schwarzenegger raised his hand and presented him the medal.
“It was a very emotional moment for me,” he recalled. “My hero (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was holding my hand high, the man who I had idolized since my childhood, when he held my hand, I was shaking, and I got really emotional.”
“I had a lot of things running in my mind at that moment, I was extremely excited for winning the competition, but I was a bit depressed that I could not win it for my own country, Pakistan. However, I had won it and I cannot explain the feeling in words,” he stated.
Atif Anwar’s next goal in life is to become Mr. Olympia which is to take place after two years, but he has already started training for the big competition.
“Hopefully you will see me exhibiting my skills on the stage of Mr. Olympia, I want to win the competition,” he added.
Though he has left Pakistan, but he is always ready to serve his motherland.
“I will keep visiting Pakistan, I am always available for my country, I will keep providing guidance to the youngsters,” he said.
In the end, he urged the budding bodybuilders to stay away from fake nutritionists and dieticians, he advised them to stick to the basic food intake and avoid any kind of drug.
“Please avoid these self-proclaimed nutritionists and dieticians, focus on your diet, to become a successful bodybuilding, you need to have a healthy diet. Moreover, avoid every kind of medicines or drugs or if you want to use something, consult doctors first,” Atif Anwar concluded.