Hailing from Gujranwala, Usman Amjad Rathore is a Pakistani weightlifter who has made the country proud on several international platforms. We had the privilege to talk to Usman about his journey. Here’s how our conversation went: Tell us about yourself? What made you choose this field? I was born on January 10,1987. I belong to Gujranwala. My father was an international weightlifter, so I won’t say it was an unfamiliar avenue for me, but personally I did not know much about it. In 1999, I began as a free-style wrestler, but being inspired by my father and with his encouragement and guidance, I soon switched to weightlifting. He got me enrolled in a weightlifting club where I got proper training. That was the beginning of it. Here’s how Usman Amjad Rathore is making Pakistan proud What platforms have you been to so far? Common Wealth Games are the biggest sports event after Olympic games. I won silver medal in Common Wealth Games 2015 held in Pune, India. Later, in 2018, I represented Pakistan in Common Wealth Games event hosted by Australia. Words cannot do justice to what I felt being the flag-bearer for Pakistan on one of the biggest international platforms. I think it’s a matter of great pride for a sportsman to wave his flag higher than others to celebrate his victory. So it’s not just the medal, but the respect and glory he brings to his country’s name. Other than professional success and physical fitness, how has weightlifting affected your life? Sports bring a lot of healthy changes to one’s life. What I’ve gained from sports other than professional success and physical fitness is discipline, patience and an ability to make better lifestyle choices. I’ve learnt to work hard and be patient and punctual. What routine do you follow to maintain your health and fitness? This profession is all about health and fitness, so one has to be very careful. I follow a strict fitness routine, with two training sessions every day. One in the morning from 10am to 12pm. Then in evening from 5pm to 9pm. What do these sessions include? I have 9 sessions in a week that include muscle stretching, and one rehabilitation massage every week. The intensity varies according to what phase of training it is. If an event is approaching, it’s tougher. You must have to stay very cautious about your diet, how do you do it? Of course, to stay fit we need to maintain a healthy diet; low carb, high protein. And then vitamins and other nutritious supplements. Since we are only allowed a low carb intake, indulgences like sweets and junk food are a strict NO for us. I love Grilled beef. Other than that I eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Proteins and carbs are to be taken right after the training sessions, so I eat grilled meat and BBQ. Do you think everyone should follow a similar diet and fitness routine? I think everyone must stay fit and healthy, so yeah, even if one doesn’t aspire to be a sportsman, one must take care of their diet and follow an exercise routine. Proper sleep is also essential. All of these things not just help one stay fit but feel better too. What challenges did you face during your journey? Other than the general challenges of lack of facilities and encouragement for sportsmen in the country, I had an injury in 2010, while I was in Kiev, Ukraine. It affected my left leg so badly that it got paralyzed. I had to stay confined to bed for two years. That was a challenging time. Would you like to expand on lack of facilities for sportsmen? It’s a very unfortunate spectacle that neither the governments nor our general public pay much attention to sports other than cricket. Not even to hockey, our national game. There’s a serious lack of support for athletes. Not enough training opportunities, lack of essential equipment and accessories, and no particular facilities of physiotherapy and nutrition guidance for athletes. We have a long way to go in term of all these. In many other countries, athletes are not discouraged or bashed by their people in case they lose or get injured. But if the same happens here, our sportsmen have to face gossips and accusations. Even if you face an injury, people tend to demotivate you. What are your dreams and aspirations for future? 2020 has affected my work, as there were no competitions due to the virus. But I continued training, as I’ve set my eyes on the upcoming National Championship. Then there are multiple upcoming mega-events like the South Asian Games 2021 in Pakistan and the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. I have two gold and one silver medal to my name from previous South Asian Games events. I’m now aspiring for bagging a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games 2022. I don’t plan to retire anytime soon, so I’ll keep working hard to bring more international glories back home. Any advice for young athletes? Keeping a good temperament and working hard persistently is necessary. Winning overnight is not a practical idea. People put in years of hard work before they achieve anything. One has to make a lot of sacrifices and focus all energies on one’s passion. Becoming a champion requires great efforts and an even greater patience. But hard work always pays off.