They say, to understand a nation’s psyche you need to see the sports they are interested in. There’s something amazing about watching sports that captivate the otherwise composed individuals to scream, obsess over their favourite players, debate over team statistics, paint faces, lose their cool and in some cases sleep – completely!
We Pakistanis are a nation of emotionally charged individuals, and it is no surprise that we are obsessed with sports. We love our stars to the extent of idolizing them. We take great pride when Team Green takes on the opponents. Our joy knows no bound when our team wins and there’s no worst enemy than us when they fail to deliver. We love them, we hate them, but we don’t allow anyone else to demean our heroes.
Pakistan is turning 71 this year, and to make this August even more special we’ve picked 13 most significant sports events from the last 7 decades of our history. Don’t forget to share your fave sporting moment in the comments section below.
1. First-ever Gold Medal (1959)
Pakistani sprinter, Abdul Khalique (left), fondly called The Flying Bird of Asia, brought home the first-ever international Gold Medal in 1959 at the Common Wealth Games for the 100 meters dash. During his illustrious career, the agile sprinter has won a total of 36 International gold medals, 15 International silver medals and 12 International bronze medals for Pakistan.
2. First Olympics Gold (1960)
We earned our first ever Gold Medal in 1960 Summer Olympics, defeating India in hockey by 1-0 at Rome. How amazing that moment must be for a 13-year-old nation! Pakistan participated in 35 events in 7 different sports. Besides the success in hockey, Pakistani wrestler Mohammad Bashir won a bronze medal for welterweight in the freestyle contests.
3. Cricket World Cup Hosts (1987)
Pakistan hosted its first major international cricket event when they co-hosted the fourth edition of ICC Cricket World Cup (officially the Reliance Cup 1987), with India in 1987. The tournament took place for the whole month from October 8 to November 8 in India and Pakistan. Neither of the hosts made it to the finals after getting eliminated in the semis.
4. Hussain Shah (1988)
Syed Hussain Shah, a boxer hailing from a modest household of Karachi made headlines by winning a bronze medal in the middleweight division, at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. This was the country’s first ever Olympic boxing medal.
5. World Squash Champion (1991)
Jahangir Khan’s name was synonymous with Squash and winning in the 1980s. The invincible champion with numerous wins created history on April 25, 1991 by winning British Open Squash title for the record tenth consecutive time from 1982 to 1991. So far no other player (national or international) has managed to achieve this feat.
6. Cricket World Cup Final (1992)
The World Cup win in Australia is still one of the most cherished moments in Pakistan’s cricket history. A group of cornered tigers, as called by their captain Imran Khan, casted a spell on the nation when they brought home the 1992 Cricket World Cup by defeating England by 22 runs in Melbourne, Australia.
7. World Hockey Championship (1994)
Pakistan regained World Hockey Championship title after 12 years, beating Holland in a nerve-chilling match by 4-3 to lift the coveted trophy. Hockey fans still remember the moment when national team’s captain Shahbaz Ahmed raised the trophy in Sydney, Australia.
8. Cricket Came Under Fire (2009)
In what can be called as the worst possible nightmare for the nation, on March 9, 2009, militants attacked the bus with the touring Sri Lankan cricket team in Karachi. Pakistan had to pay a very high price that resulted in complete suspension of all international cricket matches by world cricketing body, ICC anywhere around the country. The cricket crazy nation got another shock when Pakistan was denied of the hosting responsibilities for the cricket World Cup 2011, that resulted in a major financial crunch.
9. ICC World Twenty20 Champion (2009)
The same year, Pakistan managed to win the ICC World Twenty20 in Lord’s London, England, by beating Sri Lanka by 8 wickets. It was a much-needed victory for the ego bruised nation after being in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
10. Naseem Hameed (2010)
Pakistani athlete, Naseem Hameed became the fastest woman in South Asia when she won a gold medal in the 100 meters race at the 2010 South Asian Games in Dhaka.
11. Samina Khayal Baig (2013)
Pakistani high-altitude mountaineer, Samina Khayal Baig, became the first and only Pakistani woman to climb Mount Everest in 2013 and within a year she climbed all seven summits of the world. She is also the youngest Muslim woman to climb Mount Everest by achieving the feat at the young age of 21. Earlier this year, Samina Baig was appointed as the UNDP National Goodwill Ambassador for Pakistan.
12. International Cricket Came Home (2015)
After security concerns were addressed, Zimbabwe Cricket Team accepted an invitation to play in Pakistan, marking the first visit by a test-playing nation since 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team. The teams played a series comprising of two T20s and three ODIs.
13. Fastest 1000 Runs (2018)
Pakistan Navy sailor turned cricketer, Fakhar Zaman became the real pride for the nation by becoming the fastest man to score 1,000 One Day International runs, erasing the benchmark first set by Sir Viv Richards of West Indies, 38 years ago.