Before I start writing this blog, just a little intro on my background. I have been a National swimmer and have also been the manager of the Pakistan swimming team. I have also been an administrator in the swimming association. Reported on sports for 3 years of my journalistic career and now working as a newscaster.
Yesterday when the 15 year old Anum Banday finished her race I was shocked to read the headlines of majority of our news channels and some newspapers today. Let me just give you an example how an English daily reported on her performance – First paragraph.
“Pakistan’s Olympics dreams were dealt a brutal blow on the opening day of competition proper as its solitary female swimmer, 15-year-old wild-card entrant Anam Bandey, crashed out of the mega event, ending fourth in her 400m medley heats.”
Now have a look at another English daily – First paragraph
“Pakistan’s England-born swimmer Anum Bandey on Saturday bettered her own national record when she clocked 5:34.64 in the opening heat of the 400m Individual Medley event of women’s swimming at London 2012 Olympic Games.”
See the difference; these are two different ways of reporting on a sports event.
Let me try to give you a neutral view on Anum Banday now. Anum is a 15 year old girl who has lived all her life in England and also trains there. She chose to represent Pakistan because her parents belong to this country. This is not the first time that she represented Pakistan, she also swam on behalf of this country in the last FINA championship in China where she broke the National record previously held by Kiran Khan. Anum was given a wild card by FINA for these Olympics. When athletes are given wild cards, they are in a way “invited” to the event as they could not qualify for the event.
Now one way of looking at it is that she finished 35th amongst 35 competitors, so? If that was the criteria for sending swimmers to the Olympics, I think the other 27 swimmers shouldn’t have been sent to the Olympics by their countries because they failed to qualify for the final and almost all the swimmers already know where they stand. Even after all this Anum Banday bettered her own National record in the 400 Individual Medley by a margin of almost 3 seconds which in terms of swimming standards is a big achievement. Majority of our sports journalists don’t even know what Individual Medley is or how a country like Pakistan (which is always criticized on women’s rights) was represented by this young 15 year old. Wearing the Pakistani blazer in the Olympics is itself an honor which every sportsman in our country dreams of (go ask the crickters). Our sports journalists should first follow the sport, see what facilities we provide to our sportsmen then pick up their pens to start writing such reports. For me, Anum Banday made us proud and I wish her all the best for her career ahead.