The love of competition and the thrill of victory is shared by people from all over the world, and Pakistan is no exception. Pakistan is a nation with a proud sporting tradition, having participated in international competition since 1948, when the nation made its first appearance at the Olympic Games.
When it comes to sports in Pakistan, perhaps the most popular game is cricket. Even though polo and field hockey are considered the national sports of Pakistan, cricket is the sport with the richest tradition and the largest attendance figures. In international competition, Pakistan is a true powerhouse, winning several championships including the 1992 World Cup, and the 2009 ICC World Twenty. Of all the national teams in Asia, Pakistan has the winningest record in international competition.
Field hockey, played by both men and women, is another popular spectator sport in Pakistan. Like cricket, Pakistan is a world power in this sport, having won three gold Olympic medals. Pakistan is also a three time winner of the prestigious Champions Trophy, awarded by the International Hockey Federation.
The other national sport of Pakistan is polo, which is one of the few truly professional sports in the country. Pakistan hosts several important polo tournaments throughout the year, such as the annual Shandur Polo Tournament. Polo players in Pakistan are national heroes: Names like Murad Ismail and Raja Sami Ullah are as well-known in Pakistan as names like Alex Rodriguez and Tom Brady are in America.
Pakistan has also made a name for itself in many other sports. In boxing, for instance, Pakistan’s Haider Ali earned international recognition by winning a gold medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games before becoming a professional fighter. Taimur Hussain, a professional golfer, won the prestigious Myanmar Open in 1998. Khwaja Saeed Hai became the first Pakistani tennis player to compete in a Grand Slam, having appeared at Wimbledon, the French Open, and the U.S. Open. Though he retired in 1962, Saeed Hai is still a sports legend in Pakistan.
Other sports that are popular in Pakistan include volleyball, handball, rugby, and martial arts. Even traditional American sports are gaining popularity in Pakistan. Baseball, for instance, is one of the nation’s fastest-growing sports while basketball has been played in Pakistan since the 1950s.
What will the future hold for sports in Pakistan? There are many opportunities for growth, especially in winter sports. Although Pakistan has never competed in the Winter Olympics, a great number of ski resorts have opened in Pakistan since the 1990s. With the love of international competition embodied by the people of Pakistan, it is only a matter of time before the country makes its mark on winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.