Less than a metre separates Pakistan from its first Olympics medal since 1992

  • Arshad Nadeem finishes fifth in men's javelin throw event at Tokyo Olympics 2020
Published August 7, 2021

Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem narrowly missed out on a medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, finishing fifth in the final of the men's javelin event and ending the country's hope of a podium finish at the Games for the first time in 29 years.

The 24-year-old finished fifth among 12 contestants on Saturday. Nadeem was aspiring to win Pakistan's first Olympics medal since the men's hockey team won bronze in Barcelona in 1992.

Nadeem, a gold medalist at the 2019 South Asian Games, registered a best distance of 84.62 metres, below his 85.16-metre throw in the previous round.

India's Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal with a best throw of 87.58 metres. Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch (86.67 metres) and fellow countryman Vitezslav Vesely (85.44 metres) won silver and bronze, respectively.

The six throws that determined rankings

Nadeem hit a distance of 82.4 metres in the first attempt, well below his personal best. His second attempt was not taken into account as it was deemed a foul. He, however, improved with a throw of 84.6 metres in the third attempt, moving up from 9th to 4th place to save himself from elimination, and proceed to the second round.

The athlete could not cross the 84-metre mark in the next three attempts, one of which was also a dead throw, and finished just two spots behind a podium finish.

Chopra was the only thrower to clear the 87-metre mark twice. Despite a disappointing show in the final three throws, Chopra ended with a top-place finish.

Nation rallies behind Nadeem

However, Pakistan celebrated Nadeem's achievement, appreciating his efforts in the final.

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif took to Twitter, saying that the athlete has made her proud.

Pakistan cricketer Shadab Khan also made similar remarks and renewed his pledge to support Olympics athletes financially.

Pakistan last won an Olympics medal before Nadeem was born. The 24-year-old was Pakistan's last hope after the elimination of nine athletes from the event.

How Nadeem got to the final

Earlier, Nadeem, who hails from Mian Chunnu, Khanewal, kept Pakistan’s hopes alive when he qualified for the final of the event with a throw of 85.16 metres in the qualifying round on Wednesday – third-best after India’s Neeraj Chopra (86.65m) and world leader Germany's Johannes Vetter (85.64m).

Arshad Nadeem, Pakistan's last Olympics medal hope, qualifies for javelin throw final

Before August 4, Nadeem was only known to those who have a flair for sports, but for the general public, he emerged as an unlikely hero. On mainstream and social media, everyone, from cricket stars to politicians, joined to wish him luck.

“My goal is to get the medal… I want to return home with my head held high. I want to make Pakistan proud. I just need to do the best I am capable of here in Tokyo," said Nadeem ahead of the final.

Pakistan last won an Olympics medal when the national hockey team won bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games. In total Pakistan, has 10 Olympics medals including three gold. Eight of them have been won by the Pakistan's Men's Field Hockey team between 1956 and 1992.

The country has only two individual Olympics medals – both bronze; one in wrestling in Rome 1960 and another in the boxing event in Seoul 1988.


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