Meet Usman Chand, the lone Pakistani athlete at Delhi's Shooting World Cup
- Usman, a skeet shooter, will be competing on Saturday. He had to take a detour through Dubai since direct travel between India and Pakistan is still under suspension.
Two years ago, Pakistani shooters could not participate in the ISSF World Cup here as hostilities between the two countries had reached a flashpoint after terror attacks in Pulwama. The Pakistan contingent was unable to secure a visa for their travel and the event itself came under cloud on the day of the opening ceremony. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) finally revoked the Olympic quotas from the rapid fire event, where two Pakistan shooters had entered but could not participate.
There was no such panic for Usman Chand, who is the lone Pakistan shooter at the ISSF World Cup here. Usman, a skeet shooter, will be competing on Saturday. He had to take a detour through Dubai since direct travel between India and Pakistan is still under suspension.
“It has been a good experience," Usman said about his first day at the competition. "I hope more Pakistani sportspersons get to travel and compete in India and vice versa. The range where I train in Sialkot has the same atmosphere, so it feels like I am shooting at my home range.”
It was a last-minute rush for Usman after he came to know that India is hosting a ISSF World Cup. “There were no international tournaments happening because of Covid. Then I came to know that India is scheduled to host the World Cup. I immediately made up my mind that I wanted to come here and compete,” Usman said. "Getting the visa was tough. The Indian and Pakistan shooting federations had discussions and I got the visa five days before the start of the tournament.”
Usman, who represented Pakistan at the Asian Games in 2018 and finished 5th, said he shares a good bonhomie with Indian skeet shooters and they have been very helpful.
“I know both Mairaj Ahmed and Angwad Bajwa. They are good friends and they offered any help I needed. We have shot together quite a few times. I was there when they both qualified (Asian Championships) for the Olympics and congratulated them,” said the 36-year-old.
Usman is not in contention for the Tokyo Olympics but is happy to take part in an international event after a long gap.
“Olympics is the only competition I haven’t yet taken part in," he said. "I am self-funded. I get some help from the Olympic scholarship programme of the IOC. It is an expensive sport but we don’t not get much funding from the federation.”