Naeem Masih became the only Christian to have represented Pakistan at the London 2012 Olympics when he took part in the heats for the 1500m - T46 race, despite only having trained with the Official team for two months!.
Mr Masih was part of the two man squad from Pakistan that including Beijing 2008 hero Haider Ali, who participated in two events, the 100m – T38 race and the long jump, for which he jointly holds the world record after winning silver in Beijing with a huge jump of 6.44m worth. Haider Ali also now hold the joint top points score of 1104 for athletes with a disability.
Mr Masih sadly came 17th out of 18 qualifiers with a time of 4.51.35 minutes and 54 seconds behind the top-finisher Samir Nouioua of Algeria, this unfortunately meant he did not progress to the finals. Ali Hader came 9th out of 9 competitors in the 100m -T38 race and only registered 3 no-jumps in the Long Jump heats eliminating him from the competition.
Global Pakistani Christians now more aware of the remarkable entry of a minority individual into an international evenet of this scale have been singing his praises. The results do not matter say key figures from the community. Speaking to Independent Catholic News, Professor Mobeen Shahid, Pakistani, professor at the Pontifical Lateran University said.
"The presence of Naeem Masih means that the state considers religious minorities as an integral part of the nation, as minorities have always considered themselves. It is a sign of equal opportunity and absence of discrimination, it is a way to involve the youth of minorities in the spirit and in the activities of the nation"
Only 25 years old and used to running on muddy fields in the village of Kasur near Karachi meant that the transition to hard surfaces were difficult for Mr Masih. Paralympian Officials spoke to Dawn Newspaper;
“When you have been running on muddy fields and then on the old, worn out tracks we have in Pakistan, it comes as a big shock to your body when you run on hard and new tracks,” officials explained.
The Paralympian Committe of Pakistan has now committed to invest more in training Naeem Masih, which will include training on the type of tournament surfaces he experienced at London 2012.
Wilson Chowdhry of the BPCA said;
"Christians in Pakistan have contributed significantly to the country exampled here in Naeem's progress despite limited resources and lack of opportunity. John Permal a Christian was the fastest human in Pakistan from 1964 - 1974 representing Pakistan in the 1972 Munich Olympics, registering a personal best and then National record of 10.4 seconds at his peak. Sadly, contributions such as these are often forgotten or removed from historical records, creating an image of a talent deficit for our community."
"A Christian represented amongst only two Paralympians for Pakistan is a huge success, especially when you consider we represent 1.6% of the nations population as per Pakistan's census records.