KARACHI: Pakistan’s top female sprinter Najma Parveen will become the first female athlete to represent the country in two Olympics when she runs in heat 2 of women’s 200m in the Tokyo Olympics tomorrow.
Her heat will start at 6:38am Pakistan time.
Parveen will be aiming to improve her national records and qualify for the semifinals. The 31-year old runner from Faisalabad earned the berth to the Tokyo Olympics on a university quota from World Athletics Federation.
She is currently Pakistan’s best female athlete with 43 national gold medals to her credit and national records in women’s 200m, 400m, and 400m hurdles.
Parveen ran 200m in 23.69 seconds during 2019’s South Asian Games to win a silver medal, which is the best timing by any Pakistani female athlete in a 200m race.
She also won gold in the 400m hurdles in the South Asian Games. In the last National Games held in Peshawar, Najma proved her dominance in athletics by winning six gold medals.
This will be her second stint at the Olympics. She also represented Pakistan at the Rio Olympics in the women’s 200m race and couldn’t advance after completing the race in 26.11 seconds. But since then, she has improved her timings.
Around 42 athletes will be in action in seven heats. The top three of each heat and the next three best runners will qualify for the three semifinal races.
Najma, in heat 2, will be up running alongside world number 9 Dafne Schippers, who has a personal best of 21.63, and world number 10 Germany’s Lisa Marie who holds a personal best of 22.77. Among seven athletes in her heat, five have better personal records than Najma and it looks like a tough task for her to be among the top three.