Pakistan’s ace sports climber Iqra Jillani has set her eyes on creating history for the country in the upcoming Asian Games scheduled in Hangzhou, China, from September 23.
Iqra told Geo News that she’s aiming to win a medal in sports climbing and has been working hard for the last three months to achieve her goals.
The 25-year-old Iqra, who holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and works in the energy sector in Islamabad, is one of five climbers selected to represent Pakistan in the Asian Games. Her other teammates are Amani Jannat, Fazal Wadood, Zaheer Ahmed, and Abuzar Faiz.
“We have been working hard for the last three months in our camp under the supervision of the Pakistan Sports Board and Alpine Club of Pakistan. All the athletes are at their best during the training sessions,” she said.
“We are aiming to put Pakistan among the top three countries in climbing by winning medals at the games,” Iqra stated.
Sports climbing was first added to Asian Games in 2018 and it is set to make its second appearance this year. The climbing event in Asian Games this year will be held between September 28 and October 2. Athletes from different countries will compete for six gold medals.
Iqra and Amani are the first Pakistani women to feature in the Asian Games climbing event. In the last edition of the Asian Games, where climbing made its debut, Pakistan was represented by two male athletes – Mushahid Hussain and Sajid Aslam.
“It is an honor and moment of great pride for me to represent Pakistan in the Asian Games,” she said.
While hoping for a better result, Iqra also agreed that there will be tough competition against athletes from other countries specially China, Indonesia, and Japan.
The young climber said that she has been into mountain climbing and trekking as well and named Pakistan’s most successful mountaineer Naila Kiani as her role model.
“She is an inspiration for all of us,” Iqra said about Naila. Iqra added that she trekked to K2 basecamp last year.
Replying to a question, she said that one can meet the required endurance and fitness level for sports climbing by participating in mountaineering, but the dynamics of both sports are different.
“In sports climbing, you’ve to climb on an artificial wall in less time while in mountaineering, you are conquering various peaks without any time limitation and in different challenging environments,” she said.
“You can surely achieve fitness and endurance level, but you need to practice for climbing the wall if you want to participate in sports climbing,” she concluded.