Afghanistan’s wushu athletes have embarked on rigorous training in Kabul to prepare for the upcoming 19th Asian Games, set to commence in Hangzhou, east China, on September 23.
The national wushu team of Afghanistan is sending four athletes, accompanied by a coach and a team leader, to compete in wushu Sanda, a combat system blending traditional kung fu with contemporary combat techniques.
Mahfuz Wafa, the coach of the Wushu team, revealed that the four athletes will compete in Men’s Sanda across various weight categories, including 56kg, 65kg, 70kg, and 75kg.
“We have participated in numerous events and secured several medals. Mohammad Khalid Hotak won a bronze medal in the previous Asian Games. This time, we have dedicated ourselves to rigorous training, aiming to elevate that bronze to a silver or gold,” stated Mahfuz Wafa.
At the age of 30, Hotak, who has participated in three Asian Games, won Afghanistan’s first Sanda bronze medal in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta. He acknowledged that the Hangzhou Asian Games might be his last due to age-related factors. Consequently, he is determined to achieve new breakthroughs, anticipating competitive matchups with Chinese athletes.
“Wushu has its roots in China, and Chinese wushu athletes are renowned for their diligence. Whether in terms of technique, physical fitness, or strength, Chinese athletes excel. While I will compete against athletes from China and other countries, I am confident because of my extensive experience,” affirmed Hatak.
Twenty-four-year-old Majid Rasooli, the youngest among the four athletes, eagerly anticipates the competition as it marks his first participation in international games.
“This is my debut in international games, and it is also my maiden appearance in the Asian Games. I am committed to giving my best effort and clinching medals,” Rasooli expressed.
Coach Wafa noted that despite the modest training facilities and equipment, and the absence of financial support such as salaries or subsidies from the National Wushu Federation, team members diligently complete daily physical and combat training. Their aspirations are to not only prove themselves but also bring honor to Afghanistan.
As per a roster from Taliban-run Afghanistan’s General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports, the nation will dispatch 133 athletes to partake in 17 sports events, encompassing wushu, football, volleyball, and cricket, during the Hangzhou Asian Games. However, no female athlete is among them.