The 45th National Athletics Championship 2013 will start from today (Friday) here at Pakistan Sports Complex Jinnah Stadium. Talking at the press conference, Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) president Maj Gen (retd) Akram Sahi Thursday said: “The championship is being named after ex-director general Pakistan Sports Board Zakir Hussain Syed for his outstanding contributions for the sports.”

A total of 16 teams including provinces, departments and services will participate in the three-day championship in which 22 male and 20 female categories would be held. “Pakistan Army is the defending men's champion while Wapda is the defending female champions. More then 130 qualified technical officials will officiate during the championship.”  He said gold medal winner would be awarded trophy and a cash prize of Rs 5000, silver medalist would receive a trophy and cash prize of Rs 3000 while bronze medal winner would be given trophy and Rs 2000 cash. “We will try to enhance the cash prize accordingly in the year’s to come as soon as funds position improves.”

Sahi came down hard on POA president Gen (retd) Arif Hassan for writing letters to all the units warning them from participating in the said event and termed his attitude as against the sportsmen spirit. “The world has now realized who is in fact the main culprit in denying sports persons opportunities to showcase their skills. All the departments are participating in the championship as they are fully aware of the fact that Gen Arif is no more POA president after Supreme Court verdict and the interim committee is fully backing the championship. We have the support of international federation and legally and morally it is our bonafide right to conduct these championships.”

When asked majority of the federations were in different courts to settle their disputes, why not they sit on a table and settle their issues amicably, Sahi said: “I am ready to sit on table for settling all the issues and I am not in favour of taking the matters to courts but who will take the initiative? This suggestion should also be given to Gen Arif who is defying the courts and is the main culprit behind setting up of parallel bodies which are not providing any assistance to the POA chief. Arif had 12 years in the office but done nothing for the promotion of sports and Pakistani sports are on a continuous decline at international stage and infighting is bringing bad name for the country.”