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Lyariites` passion for gymnastics

By Tooba Masood 2016-10-02
KARACHI: Deep in the heart of Lyari lives the legend of Tarzan, or Tar Baba, as he is fondly called by his students and other gymnasts in the area.

`There was a time he was so big and strong that they said he could lif t four men with one hand. He is still quite fit,` said his former student Imdad Hussain of the Mujahid Gymnastics Club on Saturday.

`Tarzan`s real name is Imam Bux. He started training gymnasts in Lyari back in 1966 and did so for several years. I was one of his students. After boxing for a few years I realised that my real passion was gymnastics,` said Mr Hussain while talking to Dawn at the All Karachi Gymnastics Championship 2016 organised at the Lyari Gymnastics Club.

Explaining the idea behind the tournament, Mr Hussain said that gymnastics was a very important part of children growing up in the area. `It gives them positive space and exercise,` he said, adding that gymnastics was a good way to exercise the body and mind so children would not have time to run wild in the streets.

`Gymnastics has become a big thing in Lyari in the last 30 years; my brothers and cousin used to train people as well,` he said, adding that once a team from Sri Lanka alsocame to Lyari and donated six apparatus for gymnasts.

The tournament organised by Mohammad Furqab of the Lyari Gymnastics Club had participants from three schools Kiran Academy, Imkaan and DCTO Academy; and nine teams from across the city, including Baldia, Nazimabad, Korangi, Lyari and Malir. Each teams had six participants, a coach and manager. To judge the championship they had invited 12 national and international level judges and technical assistants.

According to Mr Hussain, it was difficult to organise the event as they do not have the support of any association or the government.

`We organise these events ourselves at a local level so we can make the children love gymnastics,` he said.

A man on the mic started calling participants and their coaches to the judges table to begin to line up for the handspring round.

One of the announcers said Anas, 8, was dubbed as the fastest in flips. Anas said he was very happy with his progress and hoped to take it to the next level in coming tournaments. `One day I want to play on the national level,` he said.

Ismail Shah, 11, of Imkaan, said he had been training with Mr Furqan for eight to nine months. `I`m here with three of my friends from school and it is a lot of fun. Weliked the summersaults the most,` he added.

One of the top gymnasts at the tournament, Abdul Basit, 23, said it was natural for him to join the sport as everyone in his family father, uncle, brothers and cousins were national level gymnasts. `It is my dream to go and win international awards, he added.

Amna, 13, who trains at the Lyari Gymnastics Club, said she had been training for two years and there was no debate in her family about what sport she would participate in. `All five of my brothers are gymnasts. I wanted to join them and my father encouraged me to do so. He trains us as well.

Mr Furqan, the organiser of the tournament, said he was training around 50 children, teenagers and adults at the LGC. `We run, work on physical fitness, stretching and then take it along as the individual is progressing with hand stands etc,` he said, adding that his students practised with him five days a week.

`I started training in 2000 and I loved it but then in 2004 the club that I used to go to, Noorani Gymnastics Club, was burnt down by a political party which wanted to take over the building,` he said, adding that it was hard at first and `I thought my life was over but then I started training with Coach Imdad (Mr Hussain) and now I am trying to train these kids so they can go to national and internationallevels.