Hailing from a middle-class family in Gujranwala, Talha Talib participated in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and finished fifth in the 67 kg Men’s Weightlifting category. He was only 2 kgs short of lifting a bronze medal, falling behind contestants from China, Columbia, and Italy. Talha made history being the first Pakistani to participate in this category in 44 years!
Talha has been lifting weights since he was only eight years old. At 18, he scored a bronze medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games 62 kg weight category. He carried an accumulated weight of 283 kgs! Talha Talib also participated in the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in the 56 kg slot. Furthermore, he took part in Tashkent’s International Solidarity Weight Championship, in which he carried a total of 315 kg.
The most exciting aspect of his story is that he was able to achieve this much without any professional help. His only coach was his father. Of all the local organizations, only the Pakistan Olympics Association bore some of his expenses. He was deprived of the imported tools necessary for practice. Yet, Talha still managed to achieve this feat with his talent and hard work.
Social media platforms, mainly Twitter, have appreciated him and urged the Pakistani government to invest in athletes like Talha Talib. Talha himself has stated that with professional help and facilities, he will be able to win a gold medal for Pakistan. Notable personalities like Shadab Khan and Imran Nazir also posted on Twitter, requesting financial support for the weightlifting category.
He has mentioned in an interview how Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has been unable to organize any training camps for its weightlifters in the last three years. His training ground was a private school which he had been asked to vacate on a three-month notice. Talha’s inaccessibility to essential training equipment has angered Pakistanis. They believe that if the government can organize large scale events like Pakistan Super League (PSL), and provide enormous funds for cricket training, then allocating a budget towards weightlifting will do no harm. Even after negligence from his own country, Talha Talib has promised to make Pakistan proud by putting in more hard work. He has also urged the heads of WAPDA to make him a regular employee and promote him.
Talha’s story is an inspiration to many. It is incredibly motivational for youth who believe that connections and strong family backgrounds are the only way to succeed. It is true that having financial support resolves a lot of complications and builds confidence. However, one’s passion and hard work should be the only things to drive one towards their goals.
If Talha Talib, who trained day and night in a school’s gym, can achieve massive success and participate in international competitions, others can also push themselves. His story also sheds light on the exploitative attitude of Pakistan’s sports department and has enabled locals to urge the Pakistan Weightlifting Federation to allocate its resources towards the sport.