ISLAMABAD - Sprint queen Maria Maratib and young sensation Suneha Ghafoor look determined to win gold medals in the SAF Games to be held in India.

The 25-year-old Maira, champion in 400m hurdles, 400m flat and 400m relay and still unbeaten since 2012, while talking to The Nation on Wednesday said: “I belong to a remote village of Kabirwala where athletics was a strange thing and nobody was aware and especially it was almost impossible for the females to turn their attentions towards athletics. But I am quite blessed as I had a very supportive family. I was interested in triple jump when I joined national camp in 2012 under the guidance of coach Asghar Gill, who only in 6-months training/coaching turned me into unbeatable stuff.

She said she won gold medal in First Lialpur Open Athletics Championship in 100m hurdles in 2013 and triple jump. “I also participated in 2013 Asian Athletics championship in Poona, India where I was the losing semifinalist. I had never underwent international training and aiming to win gold medal in SAF Games in India in 100m hurdles and triple jump. I request Athletics Federation of Pakistan President Major General (R) M Akram Sahi and Pakistan Sports Board to arrange international coaches and training for female players and based us in China at least. It would definitely boost our chance sin SAF Games and we could win number of gold medals. We are getting excellent facilities/training at PSB but now is the time we should be given international exposure.”

While sharing her views 10-year-old Suneha Ghafoor, who made headlines when she became the youngest athlete to win bronze medal in National Athletics Championship in 5000m at the age of only 9, looked highly shy. “I am in the camp for last two months and focusing on 800m, 1500m and 5000m. I am working under the guidance of Sumera Zahoor. I am also getting education from fellow athletes, I am in class 3. I am hoping to create history by winning medal for Pakistan in SAF Games next year. I would prefer 1500m and 5000m. Army is giving me Rs 5000 stipend. I request PSB to announce stipend for me so I could continue my studies and take sports very seriously as my father can't afford expenses. I always dream of winning international medals. I am only10 and could create new records if provided with opportunities.” She said she was missing her family, especially her mother. She praised the PSB for taking good care of her and added the presence of fatherly figure Malik Imtiaz Hussain, assistant director hostels, was a great source of inspiration for her as he was taking extra care of her and providing her special diet.”

While sharing his views head coach Asghar Gill said: “We have bright hopes of winning gold in 100m hurdle, triple jump as Maria is preparing very hard while it is quite disappointing that FESCO is not releasing top athletes and medal hopes Najma and Sumira Tayyaba, who could made real difference in SAF Games. I request FESCO to set aside personal interests and put national interests ahead. We had worked very hard on male and female players and quite optimistic about the favorable results.”–MOHSIN ALI