Rohullah Nikpai once again brought moments of pride and jubilance to the nation with first medal for Afghanistan at the London Olympics. Though news of Olympic victory and medals make headlines in other countries too, but it was celebrated with an exceptional glee in the war-torn Afghanistan when Rohullah Nikpai won a bronze medal in Taekwondo. The entire nation stayed glued to their TV until late night watching three matches of our hero. President Karzai called him personally, and greeted the team.
His victory against Hungarian rival stirred excited cheers across the country on Thursday, and hopes were high for the first Olympic gold medal ever. But a slight dim mood of disappointment was prevalent after Rohullah could not win against his Iranian rival in quarterfinals. However, he beat David Boui of the Central African Republic with 14-2, followed by tremendous victory against his British rival Stamper in semi-final.
Nisar Ahmad Bahawi also won his first match, doubling the celebrations. Though he lost in second match, but hopes are high he will bring our second medal tomorrow.
Afghan athletes are real heroes of the country. Their achievements in different international sporting events have not only brought some moments of joy and pride, but also a great sense of unity among Afghans regardless of their ethnic background, something that our political and religious leadership as well as the Karzai Administration have totally failed during the last ten years of the golden opportunity in our history to build pillars of a modern nation state.
Their achievements have not only been a moral boast to the confidence and pride of our terrorism-hit people, but also a paradigm for youth to play their role in bringing honor to the country. Our athletes deserve exceptional encouragement that despite lack of facilities, they make history. The talent of our youth can compete at international level in all fields from sports to education and leadership. It needs to be provided with opportunity.
Rohullah Nikpai (born June 15, 1987) brought the first-ever medal to Afghanistan in the history of Olympic at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Nikpai had beaten the 2006 European Champion Levent Tuncat from Germany. He represented the nation in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha. He was placed second in the World Taekwondo Federation's world qualifying event in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Born in a poor family, he had seen the hardships of refugee life in Iran and later had to work as a hairdresser in Kabul. But when opportunity was available, he availed it and made history for us.
The Government and international community should invest and support sports in Afghanistan. It is the best incentive for nation-building, giving people hope and pride. Sports can have the most pivotal role as a positive social factor for public perception in our war-ravaged country. The private sector should invest and support sports. We don’t have lack of talents, but it needs to be explored and polished. Due to our huge problems, the Government cannot highly prioritize sports, but private sectors should.
We have been able to send some athletes to the Olympics for the last two times, due to decades of conflicts in Afghanistan. But now the Government should pay more attention so that we can send more and more in different categories and sports at international events.