ISLAMABAD-Former Olympian and national record holder in 100m, 200m and long jump Shahbana Akhtar offered her services to help the country produce medal-winning athletes.

In an interview with The Nation, Shabana said: “I am always ready to pay back to my beloved country, as whatever I have been enjoying today is just because of Pakistan. I can train athletes only in Lahore, where I reside with my family and can’t move to Islamabad or anywhere else. I have witnessed some highly talented girls in Lahore, whom if provided with latest training and proper guidance, can easily excel at the highest level.”

Speaking about her achievements, Shahbana said: “I won bronze medal in 1995 South Asian Games in India in long jump, my record of 6.31m is broken in 2016. In 1998 National Games held in Peshawar, I grabbed 7 gold medals and 1 silver medal and in 1992 National Games held in Lahore, I participated in 8 events in one day and won 8 gold medals, which is still a national record. I have also won a great number of medals in different international events. My life time dream came true, when I participated in the Atlanta USA Olympics, where though I could not perform accordingly, yet I did managed to improve my timing.”

She further said that in 1997 Solidarity Games held in Islamabad, she took part in 4 events and won 4 gold medals while in 1998, I took part in Asian Championship in Russia in long jump and won fifth spot. “I took retirement from competing in 1998 and became LESCO coach. I could have easily won international medals for Pakistan, had I same facilities, which the present days athletes have been enjoying. These athletes are blessed and also have jobs. It was all just becuase of sincere efforts and dynamic leadership of AFP president Major General (R) M Akram Sahi. There is a lot of room for improvement for our athletes, as if they work hard, train properly and pay heed towards what is taught to them, there is every possibility they can easily produce more than desired results.”

“Our athletes are not any lesser to any international athlete, but they lack behind due to lack of international exposure and modern-day training methods. The PSB and AFP must sit together and work on a plan to invite international top coaches to Pakistan, who may transform our athletes and bring that cutting edge in them. My services are always available for any given athlete, I offer them to feel comfortable to contact me and would love to help them in best possible fashion. But without working hard, spending time in field, no one can even think about excelling at the top,” Shabana concluded.