by Saima Bhat
His colleagues call him Sultan of Haryana. He has won nine gold, four silver and three bronze medals in different levels of Athletics Federation of India; three gold, two silver and a bronze medals in CBSE nationals, and has successfully competed in events in Qatar, Saudi, and Kuwait. Back home, Saddam Hussain, 19, is struggling to get associated with the J&K sports council.
“It has been a month since I started visiting them so that I can represent my State but I fear I am not getting any positive response,” laments Saddam. “They want me to play at my own expenses and when I get any medal only then they will highlight me.”
Residents of Arin Bandipora but presently living in Srinagar’s posh Shivpora, Hussain’s father, associated with tourism sector, got one of his friends home. It was a decade back and Hussain had performed good in his fourth primary in Woodland school. That friend, who was working in Army, suggested Shah Satnam Ji Boys School Haryana for his son, insisting that they can get best out of him.
For next three years Hussain was giving full time to his studies and played cricket sometimes. He got into swimming as well as in judo. One of his seniors suggested Hussain he should play Short Put Game as there was none from J&K state at the national or international levels.
Short Put Game is an individual game, which is known as ‘mother of all athletic games in Olympics’, which needs throwing or putting (throwing in a pushing motion) a heavy spherical object—the shot—as far as possible. The shot put competition for men has been a part of the modern Olympics since their revival in 1896, and women’s competition began in 1948.
Hussain started his luck with this game when he was under 14, and a student of eighth class. The same year, he managed to get a gold medal at national level. He says the game needs the better combination of power, speed and technique.
But his parents were not interested in sports then, instead they wanted him to focus on studies. “When I got four gold medals in tenth class and a merit certificate from the Prime Minister of India for my performance within and outside the class, my parents changed and they started to support me.”
But Hussain credits his success to his Guru in a local Sanastha in Haryana, which he joined in his first year in games. “They used to give me concession for getting gold and my hard work,” Hussain said. “But as I have passed from that school now, it has become difficult for me to afford everything of my own.” He estimates his coaching and diet fees at around Rs 35000 a month.
Presently, the standard weight of the shot is 7.260 kgs in Olympics with 22.5 meters and Hussain manages the shot of 6 kgs with 19.70 meters in the age of 19 years. He has managed a weight of 95 to 100 kgs but he says it needs him lot of effort to maintain his weight and muscles.
“If I have to play Internationals and in Olympics, then I need to have a better coach with all good facilities like workouts, power weight, power training, gym, exercises,” Hussain said. Athletics is the only sport where Hussain says it needs lot of hard work to reach a particular level and then bear the fruits of success.
As Hussain will be graduating soon, he is uncertain of his future. He wants to return home. “Seeing the response of sports council, I believe I may have to change my stream to academics to continue with my passion,” Hussain said.