Pakistan’s rising sports climber, Iqra Jillani, is looking to etch her name in history as she gears up for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, commencing on 23 September. Iqra, a 25-year-old marketing professional in Islamabad’s energy sector, has dedicated the last three months to rigorous training, all in pursuit of her ambition to claim a medal in sports climbing.
She is part of an elite group of five climbers representing Pakistan at the Asian Games, alongside teammates Amani Jannat, Fazal Wadood, Zaheer Ahmed, and Abuzar Faiz. They have undergone intensive training under the Pakistan Sports Board and the Alpine Club of Pakistan, ensuring they are at their peak performance.
Speaking of their collective goal, Iqra expressed,
We are aiming to put Pakistan among the top three countries in climbing by winning medals at the games.
Sports climbing, a relatively new addition to the Asian Games, made its debut in 2018 and is poised for its second appearance this year, with the event scheduled between 28 September and 2 October. Contestants from around the globe will vie for six coveted gold medals.
Iqra and Amani stand as trailblazers, becoming the first Pakistani women to participate in the Asian Games climbing event. In the previous edition, Pakistan was represented solely by two male athletes, Mushahid Hussain and Sajid Aslam. Iqra considers it a moment of immense pride to represent Pakistan on this esteemed platform.
However, she acknowledges the formidable competition, particularly from countries like China, Indonesia, and Japan. In her pursuit of excellence, Iqra finds inspiration in Naila Kiani, Pakistan’s most accomplished mountaineer, revealing that she is an inspiration for all Pakistani climbers. Iqra herself trekked to the K2 base camp last year, demonstrating her passion for climbing.
Responding to queries about the parallels between mountaineering and sports climbing, Iqra emphasized their differences. While mountaineering builds endurance and fitness, sports climbing necessitates specific wall-climbing skills within a limited time frame on artificial structures. Iqra’s dedication to mastering these skills reflects her determination to bring home glory for Pakistan at the Asian Games.