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Friday, 1 September, 2000, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Pakistan hopes for Olympic glory
Pakistan in action against Australia in August
All hopes on the field hockey team
By Susannah Price in Islamabad

The Pakistani Olympic team is hoping that enthusiasm rather than experience will be the key to its middle success.

The best hopes are the hockey team and a champion rower.

Pakistan's hopes in this year's Olympics are pinned firmly on the field hockey team.

In the 1984 Olympics they took a gold medal - but managed only sixth place in the last games.

Hockey fans say their team is not in the best shape with many good players retiring early and some new additions.

Recent changes in the hockey federation leadership have not helped.

National pride

However the team's morale is expected to be a major factor in their performance.

Pakistan player in action
Pakistan last won a hockey gold in 1984
A great deal of patriotism is bound up with the hockey team and if Pakistan wins it will be seen as a source of national pride.

The team plays its first match against Canada and faces some other strong teams in the same group.

In other events Pakistan is fielding a gold medallist from the Asian games in the single sculling called Mohammad Akram.

He is Pakistan's most celebrated rower and has just been given the President's Award for pride of performance.

He was the first Pakistani to qualify for the Olympics this time round but remains modest saying he knows he's up against the best.

There are also participants in the double sculling event.

The athletes are not thought to be serious contenders for medals but will be trying to better their own timings.

Surprise hope

Only one woman is in the team - a long distance runner called Shazia Hiyat who's never won a gold medal regionally or internationally.

She has been sent to the Olympics in a scheme organised by the international athletics association to encourage wider participation.

Four boxers are also going and some insiders believe they could pull off a surprise.

There was one medal in 1984.

Loyal fans say they are the best boxers in Asia outside the Far East.

The rest of the contestants are taking part in swimming and shooting.

Pakistan's golden opportunity would come if squash was to be included in the Olympics.

There is a push to introduce the sport in the future which Pakistan, having produced several champions, would undoubtedly support.

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See also:

27 Aug 00 | Hockey
GB face determined Pakistan BBC Sport >>
09 Aug 00 | Hockey
Rebuilding the Indian legend BBC Sport >>
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