Mohammad Ashiq, Former Olympian, 83, Lahore.

Mohammad Ashiq was a true hero of Pakistan’s sports. In 1960-64 Sumer Olympics, the athlete brought many medals home. In the 1960 he contested and won laurels and the hearts of sports lovers in the Olympics and Asian Games and other international events as a cyclist amid other sports events.

At the age of 25, Mohammad contested in the 1000 meters Men’s’ Sprint event in the Rome Summer Olympics in 1960. Later at 29, he participated in the 4000 meters individual pursuit event during the Tokyo Olympics. He also represented Pakistan Railways at national competitions before retiring from the sport.

Mohammad lived as an unsung hero. He was bitter about the lack of policy or facility for the committed and decorated athletes. Due to the lack of State or private patronage he suffered. As his financial situation worsened, he had no choice but to drive a rickshaw for fend for his family.

Mohammad Ashiq bereaved by mortal departure of his wife. She was a motivation throughout his career and he took up cycling after she advised him to discontinue boxing.

In 2016 however, his life became bearable when NetSol, a private technology-based firm in Lahore, learnt of his plight. They hired Mohammad as the Brand Ambassador to inspire Pakistani youth and so that he didn’t have to drive the rickshaw anymore. Mohammad Ashiq would present his motivational talks to the private company’s staff. However, family sources added that in the past few months the company stopped communicating with the Olympian.

While the State forgot the role of a star athlete who spent his whole life for his country and sports, Mohammad was no quitter. In his media interview he shared that on every Independence Day, he would don his green sports blazer, emblematic of his service in representation of Pakistan and drive the rickshaw. This was a sign of peaceful plea that the government need honour its representatives. However, he would tell passengers and friends about his story as a glorified hero Olympian.

Died of a stroke six-days before his 83rd birthday and is buried in Lahore’s Miyani sahib graveyard.

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