“I am trying to do my best for my country, I want that medal,” Pakistan's two-time Commonwealth Champion Saadi Abbas vows, as he looks towards making history by winning the third gold in Birmingham.
Saadi will take on Australia’s Mitchell Durham in the -75kg kumite on Thursday.
The 33-year-old has been one of the best athletes Pakistan has produced in the last 10 years and he continues to inspire others. However, it seems that the Pakistani government and at times the cricket-loving nation only turns a blind eye to his incredible achievements that include 17 medals in international events.
Saadi is the only Pakistani and South Asian to ever win the Asian Karate Championship and the only one to win the US Open. He has also won two South Asian Karate Championships, won two gold medals in South Asian Games for Pakistan, last being in 2019, while proving himself to be the best the region has to offer for more than a decade.
Saadi first won his Commonwealth Karate Championships in 2009 in South Africa, then in 2014 in Montreal, but despite serving his country relentlessly, Saadi did not receive any financial or moral support from the Pakistani government.
He was forced not to take part in the 2016 Commonwealth Karate Championships because of the lack of funds and then the same thing happened to him in 2018.
The frustration and the heartbreak came because Saadi has world-class talent that Pakistan completely ignored. He did everything in his power, from spending his savings, each and every penny to serve the country through participating in these events and winning medals. It is the country that failed to give him the due respect.
At the end of the day, it is not the financial aid or great press, but it is the respect that matters and everything else comes after it.
For Saadi, he is still trying to raise Pakistan's flag high, despite the tough situations he has endured.
“It didn't matter when I won the gold medals. The support never came. No sponsors came forward and now, it is the same. I am here on my own, but I am playing for my country, I am giving my best,” Saadi told The Express Tribune from Birmingham.
“I want to win the medal. This is also me trying to make up for the Islamic Solidarity Games performance. I had a tough draw, but I am here at the Commonwealth Championships now to compete. Unfortunately, I see the indifference from the people.”
Saadi added that in the championship he will face tough competition from England, Canada, and Australia in his weight category.