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Pakistan hockey legend, Samiullah Khan was thrust into the limelight once again as he was chosen as the first bearer of the Olympic torch relay when it toured the Pakistan capital, Islamabad last month.
I had the privilege of meeting up with Samiullah the day after the celebratory run at his home in the suburb of Karachi.

Pakistan hockey legend, Samiullah Khan was thrust into the limelight once again as he was chosen as the first bearer of the Olympic torch relay when it toured the Pakistan capital, Islamabad earlier this month. I had the privilege of meeting up with Samiullah the day after the celebratory run at his home in the suburb of Karachi. The evidence of the previous day?s run was on the side table; which had place on it the souvenir torch which had been presented to each of the 66 runners. His torch was labelled ?Number 1? to denote that Samiullah as the first runner of the Pakistan leg. ?I was very privileged to be chosen not only as a runner but indeed the first bearer, it was a great honour for me as well as recognition of the contribution to the sport of hockey made by Pakistan? said Samiullah. With the spring in his heel which was still evident, it was difficult to believe that the star hockey player, appropriately labelled as the ?flying horse? due to his galloping runs on the left wing in his hey day, last donned Pakistan colours over a quarter of century ago. Dera Ismail born, Samiullah made his debut in 1971 and although he could not emulate his younger brother Kaleemullah in winning an Olympic gold medal he went on to win World Cup gold medals in 1978 (Buenos Aires) and 1982 (Bombay) as well as silver medal in 1975. ?In 1975 World Cup we had a very balanced team but I dislocated my shoulder early in the final and disappointing we lost 2-1 to a very controversial goal against India?, reminisced Samiullah. Capped 151 in Pakistan colours, Samiullah loving known as ?Sami? in the hockey fraternity holds the proud record of being the only player to score in four consecutive World Cup tournaments. Throughout his playing career Samiullah captured the imagination of the spectators with his individual brilliance Sami lamented at the current state of hockey Pakistan, ?the Dutch coaches which Pakistan team utilised in 1994 and more recently 2004 took us towards power hockey and away from our traditional, skilful Asian style, our physique does not allow us to match the European teams in power play and therefore we took a big step backwards?. ?Moreover the popularity of hockey suffered as we were condemned to no higher than the fifth world ranking during the past decade?, said Samiullah. ?In our glory years (around his peak in the mid seventies to mid eighties), any thing less than gold medal was considered to be a failure for the team and you noticed youngsters playing hockey in the streets. Sadly now you are only able to witness cricket being played in the streets? added Samiullah. When appointed as the team manager for the national team, he was unable to match his awesome playing record, as the gold medal proved elusive. In the junior World Cups of 1993 and 1997 Green shirts won silver medal and secured fifth post respectively and at the Atlanta Olympics (1996) also under his managership the team only obtained fifth position. ?I enjoyed a stint in China as coach of the Guangdong province where we won the national championship, however I declined the offer to coach their national team due mainly to language restrictions and the local food was not agreeable to me?, said Samiullah smiling. Employed as a senior Customs official, Samiullah at present is a member of the four man selection committee for the national team, ?the dearth of hockey talent is evident and our crop of present players does not include players which can be classified as above average in ability?, observed Samiullah. One possible reason for not attracting youngsters to follow a career in hockey according to Samiullah, ?is that despite the dedication required to be a top hockey player, the rewards do not attract newcomers?. ?The government definitely needs to play a greater role in providing funding to nurture talent?, commented Samiullah. When asked about Pakistani players performing in the foreign leagues, Samiullah said ? that was inevitable as such players needed the opportunity to earn a living and to secure their financial futures?.

and winning gold in Asian Games in Bangkok in 1978. Having failed to make the cut for this year?s Champion?s Trophy after finishing sixth in last year?s edition. we will have fresh hockey stars who will bear the torch instead of relying on past legends?.Olympic Sports : samiUllah khan flying horse Samiullah Khan (Urdu: ) (born September 6. the greenshirts prospects in the forthcoming Champions Trophy and about what we need to do to get back to winning ways.php An Interview with Samiullah Khan Pakistan Hockey Team Manager 'The sub-continent perhaps is the only place in the world where despite adverse results the public has stayed loyal to hockey.phf. and this series took place almost immediately after that. Here are the excerpts. It allowed both sides to leave the Olympic .pk/interviews/samiullah_khan. He played as a left winger for his native country in 1970s and 1980s. His coverage has been highly commended by the Hockey Writers Club. 3 times Olympic champions. But it is about time that we give some good news to the hockey loving people of this country' Samiullah is a legend whose very mention evokes images of a bolt on the left flank piercing through the opponent defenses at will. Pakistan) is a former field hockey player from Pakistan. What is more. who was nicknamed The Flying Horse because of his great speed. The good thing is that both the sides had put a right measure of emphasis on rebuilding. In this interview he shares his insight on the recent series against India. He was instrumental in Pakistan's bronze medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.com/group.Father of two teenage daughters. Pakistan find themselves scratching to find top class opposition with the Beijing Olympics merely four months away. and thus there was induction of many youngsters into the squad. they will be participating at the Azlan Shah Tournament next month.php?gid=138467586814 Name: samiullah khan Category: . all of them were given ample opportunity to impress the hockey followers and the selectors. Shahid Khan is Senior Hockey Journalist for BBC Radio Asia Network and has covered all major tournaments for the past 15 years for London newspapers Eastern Eye and Asian Times.com REF: http://pa-in. Bahawalpur. Recently he was called back by the PHF to manage Pakistan team.. Source: Fieldhockey. So the importance of the series was manifold. ?I sincerely hope that in the future when the Olympic torch tours Pakistan.com. 1951. Samiullah added ? if the national team did manage to win a major tournament. ) REF: http://www. said Samiullah.? However at present. the government would allocate housing plots which could be a very lucrative prospect.( Privacy Type: Open: All content is public.. Q: What to you was the significance of Pakistan's series victory over India? A: Both Pakistan and India did not perform all that well at the Athens Olympics. Khan retired from international hockey in 1982 while he was a.facebook.

But we should be aiming to improve our performance to the point where we are playing the finals more regularly. We are still one of the top teams and if form this we keep on making earnest and sincere efforts and think positive. For Pakistan the series was important in the sense that we more or less maintained our superb victorious run against India that has seen us post 11 wins against two losses.setback behind and move on. The youngsters that each team tried have had some exposure in high pressure games and this would come handy in the forthcoming Champions Trophy where India too has got a slot because the Australians have decided to not to take part on security grounds. there is no reason that we are not be final? able to see a revival in our fortunes. Q: Were you surprised by the tremendous response that the Pakistan-India series got from the general public? A: Personally I was not surprised. we should all concentrate on preparing for the challenges of 2006' Q: What do you think are Pakistan's prospects in the Champions Trophy? A: Well. as I have said before Pakistan is rated amongst the top four. there is no reason that we should not be able to see a revival in our fortunes' because I know that hockey contests between the two sub-continental rivals have a very special significance with the people on both sides of the border. That said it is about time that we give some good news to the hockey loving people of this country. not really. and also the Junior World Cup. We have the potential but we need to make it a habit to win when it matters . We should be looking to the future and not remain rooted to the past. and also the Junior World Cup. But a series win is a series win and it surely has imbued the boys with the sense that compared to the Olympic Games they should dobetter in the Champion trophy. Saqlain is a good centre-half who has a few years of hockey left in him. Q: Would you recommend any further changes in the squad? Would you want to recall any of the seniors who have just retired? A: No. it would not really make a huge difference as Adnan Maqsood has so far done rather well. we should all concentrate on preparing for the challenges of 2006. 'The year 2006 is most important for us as the Asian Games and the World Cup is scheduled to take place then. The only possible exception could be centre-half Mohammad Saqlain. 'We are still one of the top teams and if we keep on making earnest and sincere efforts and think positive. The series was not of a very high quality perhaps because both teams are trying to get settled after a number of seniors either retired or were dropped. After the Champions Trophy. After the Champions Trophy. but even if he too is not called back. And the future is with the youngsters. Even otherwise the subcontinent perhaps is the only place in the world where despite adverse results of the national teams the public has stayed loyal to hockey.The year 2006 is most important for us as the Asian Games and the World Cup is scheduled to take place then. And he was not given the sack because he was past it but on disciplinary grounds.

I am a very optimistic man. That was the decisive match and we should have won it.most. I believe that we would be facing a similar situation and similar pressures during the Champions Trophy. . nobody gives a whit if we keep saying that we crashed out of the Olympics because of one defeat [against Spain]. Pakistan has beaten all top teams in the last two to three years. we have to win at least two to feature in the final. and I believe we can. Period. Our task is cut out for us: from the three games against the sides rated higher than us. Q: Do you think that on current Pakistan line-up has the skill and mental strength to have a realistic chance of making it to the? A: Well. For instance. They only need to do it more frequently and fight hard in crucial games.