ISLAMABAD - 16-year-old Yasmeen Maryam Khan looks quite positive about winning gold medal for Pakistan in the South Asian Games fin weight category taekwondo event.

Talking to The Nation, Yasmeen, who just arrived from USA along with her father 7th Dan Sohail Ali Khan, who is also head coach of Pakistan taekwondo team, said: “I have 99 percent chances of winning gold medal for Pakistan at Indian soil. I have trained hard with my coach and dad Sohail Ali Khan, who worked day and night and enabled me to fight for 25 to 30 rounds, which would be almost impossible for other girls to follow. My dad never treated me as his daughter rather during practice and training, he always treats me like a player and motivates me to do more.”

Despite having the option of playing for USA or Romania, as her mother is Romanian national, Yasmeen opted to play for Pakistan due to his father, who won the very first international taekwondo medal for Pakistan. She wants to follow her father’s footsteps and eager to earn gold medal in the Games. “I have picked Pakistan because I want to surpass my dad’s record and want to become the first player to win international female medal for Pakistan. I have also dreamt about not only representing Pakistan in Olympics but also keen to win medal for the country. I will participate in Olympic qualifying round in Manila, Philippines in April this year where my focus will be delivering and booking berth in the Olympics,” she added.

Yasmeen said she had found no security issues in Pakistan. “I must appreciate the fellow players, who, despite finding it difficult to communicate with me due to language barrier, support me with open hearts and assures their all-out help, which is quite amazing. They never left me alone for the last two days for which I am really humbled and obliged. Pakistan Taekwondo Federation (PTF) also gave me respect and platform to exhibit my prowess and win medal for the country of my forefathers.

“I have already visited a few places in Islamabad and found no security issue at all. It is my message to international community not to believe in fairytales and at least visit Pakistan once. When they visit Pakistan, they will realise, what they have been missing. Pakistanis are so caring and sports-loving nation. I wish I could have spent more time in Pakistan before leaving for India on 10th. I would love to come to Pakistan again when the federation would invite me for further events,” Yasmeen added.

Sharing his views, head coach and 7 Dan Sohail Ali Khan has claimed that Pakistani players had 80 percent chances of winning gold medals in the South Asian Games. “I have spent from my own pocket and travelled all the way from USA without charging a single penny. I could have easily coached in the USA, but I denied the offer just because of sheer love and passion for my country. I am a US citizen since 1992, but my roots are in Pakistan. The PTF has been bearing our expenses for the SAG only while I have paid rest of the expenses from my personal pocket and I am not charging a single penny for coaching Pakistan national team.”

“I have participated in a number of international fights, US Olympic winner offered me to stay in USA in 1991 which I accepted and became a US citizen but my heart always remains in Pakistan. I have never forced Yasmeen to pick Pakistan for international representation, but it was her choice, as she is fully aware about the fact I was the first male player to win international taekwondo medal. It is too early to predict, how many players will win gold medals, but it is sure that we stand more than 80 percent chances of winning gold medals in different categories,” Sohail concluded.