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Countdown to the South Asian Games:

Pakistan to field 51-member athletic team

SA GAMES: Only nine days to go for the South Asian version of Olympics - the 10th South Asian Games, to be hosted by Sri Lanka. The eight-nation Games will be the biggest ever multi-sport event to be hosted by Sri Lanka. Through this countdown series, the 'Daily News' will have a closer look at the South Asian Games, its history, local preparations and our medal prospects.

Pakistan will field a 51-member team for the forthcoming 10th South Asian Games which starts in Sri Lanka on August 18.

The Pakistan Athletic Federation has announced a strong 51-member athletic squad for the eight-nation Games.

The Pakistan athletic team would comprise 30 men and 11 women. The selections have been made after open trials held at the Jinnah stadium Islamabad recently. Muhammad Khalid Mahmood, the secretary, the Athletic Federation of Pakistan (AFP) has said the athletes are determined to make their presence felt.

"The athletes have been making their preparations for the Games at a training camp at Islamabad till their departure to Colombo," he was quoted as saying.

Sprinter Muhammad Imran of Pakistan Army will compete in men's 100m, 200m & 4x100m relay, along with fellow soldier Afzal Baig, who too runs in identical events. Their partners in men's 100m relay are Muhammad Shahbaz and Nazim Shah.

Pakistan's fastest woman at the trials - Naseem Hameed of Pakistan Army will run in 100m along with her Army team mate Sadaf Siddiqui. The Pakistan athletic team would be managed by Major Mahmood Riaz.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has also finalised their table tennis team for the mega event in Colombo. The Pakistan TT teams comprises five male and female players each.

The TT team: Men - Muhammad Asim Qureshi, Kashif Razzak, Hassan Haider Kazmi, Syed Saleem Abbas Kazmi and Ali Sajjad Faisal and Women - Aisha Iqbal Ansari, Rahila Kashif, Ghalia Khursheed, Kanwal Iqbal and Sadia Yasin.

The team is in good shape as they have just returned home from China where they underwent a 40-day training-cum-competition programme. "We believe the tour has helped the players a lot in improving the level of their game and to perform up to a high level in the Games," a team official was quoted as saying.

"Best possible talent was picked under a performance based formula by considering their overall performances in national and international meets," he added.

Giving details about the competition, he said, the spokesman said 40mm Nittaku Balls will be used in the South Asia Games. The Asian TT body will provide a technical delegate to supervise the Games.

India will field the highest contingent of over 400 members, while the strength of the Pakistan contingent is around 350.

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