At the Commonwealth Games on Thursday, Shajar Abbas proved unstoppable in his 200-meter heat in Birmingham.
Shajar left nothing to chance this time, putting aside the disappointment of narrowly losing out on the 100-meter semifinals two days prior.
He finished first in his heat at the Alexander Stadium in 21.12 seconds, securing his spot in Friday’s semifinals.
Shajar told reporters, “Now, I’ll do my best to qualify for the final.”
Shajar had placed fourth in his heat but was unable to advance to the 100m semifinals. The 22-year-old lost out despite having a faster time than one competitor who qualified because the top two in each heat of that event advanced along with the seven who produced the greatest timings.
Shajar was one of eight victors on Thursday in the 200m. As the top two finishers in each of the eight heats advanced along with the next eight quickest sprinters to the semifinals.
Udodi Chudi Onwuzurike of Nigeria, the World Under-20 champion, and Abdul Rasheed Saminu of Ghana were ahead of Shajar at the 100-meter mark.
But then he turned on the gas, catching up to Saminu around the 150-meter mark and then passing Onwuzurike in the final 25 meters to beat the Nigerian at the finish line by 0.06 seconds. In 21.32, Saminu came in third.
Shajar, who has a 200-meter national record of 20.87, placed 12th overall out of the 57 sprinters that competed, and he will face strong competition in the semifinals.
Zharnel Hughes of England ran the quickest time in the men’s heat with a timing of 20.30, four years after being disqualified in the last competition on Australia’s Gold Coast for obstructing a rival before crossing first in the 200.
Jareem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago qualified fourth quickest in 20.68 and was elevated to the gold medal. On the Gold Coast as a result of Hughes’ obstruction.
Weightlifter Nooh Dastagir Butt won the men’s +109kg final, while judoka Shah Hussain Shah won bronze in the -90kg competition the night before, giving Pakistan’s sportsmen their first medals at the Games.
On Thursday at the University of Birmingham, Nasir Iqbal and Tayyab Aslam won the men’s doubles squash match.
The Pakistani team defeated Ghana’s Evans Ayih and Clement Anafo 11-1, 11-1 to advance to the round of 16.
Two Pakistani players lost in the round of 32 on the badminton court at the National Exhibition Center.
In the men’s singles, Mohammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti lost 21-10, 21-9 to fifth-seeded Malaysian Yong Tze Ng.
After losing to Jamaican Tahila Richardson 21-14, 21-15, his fellow countryman Ghazala Siddique was eliminated from the women’s singles tournament.
Shajar won’t be the only athlete Pakistan will be watching on Friday.
The top table tennis player in the nation, Fahad Khawaja, will compete against Paul Drinkhall of England for a position in the round of 16.
On Wednesday night, Fahad dominated the group stage by winning all three of his bouts.
He defeated Guyana’s Christopher Franklin 4-0 in the group stage, Bangladesh’s Mohtasin Ahmed 4-1 in the second round, and Trinidad & Tobago’s Darren Douglas easily in the final match.