The 24-year-old won a Tripartite place in women’s singles, enabling her to set the milestone for her country.
“From the beginning of my career, it was my dream to represent my country in such a huge event like Olympics,” Shahzad said. “I felt so accomplished when I came to know that my dream has come true. Being the first ever Pakistani badminton player to qualify for the Olympics is a proud moment not only for me and my family, but also for the whole nation.”
Shahzad had some good results in the qualifying period before the onset of COVID-19, reaching the semifinals of the Bulgarian International Championship and winning the Pakistan International Series.
“I’m trying my best to work on my weaknesses and polishing my strengths. I’m dedicating six-seven hours every day for my training, including my fitness routine. Moreover, I’ve toughened my court drills and have been working on my mental strength to be able to sustain the pressure at the Olympics.”
Badminton continued to bring happy tidings for Shahzad, recipient of a scholarship instituted by BWF in partnership with World Academy of Sport for a Postgraduate Certificate in International Sports Management. Shahzad, one of 11 candidates selected from among 70 applicants, started the programme in February 2021.
“I’m honoured to be able to say that I’m doing my PGCert with a fully-funded scholarship awarded by BWF,” said the world No.146. “It has been a great addition to my academics as I’m able to learn different aspects of time management which helps me design an effective daily routine.
“The last six months have been a life-changing experience for me, arguably the best period of my life. It brought me some great results in badminton which has always been my dream. I always wanted to do something unique in this sport and I can proudly say that I’ve done it by qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics and by being awarded a fully funded scholarship.”
Shahzad believes her participation at Tokyo 2020 will provide a fillip to the sport in her country.
“My qualification will surely motivate other players to work harder to achieve their goals. It will also bring awareness about this sport in Pakistan among the public. Lastly, it will encourage our government to provide more facilities to our talented players who have potential to perform at the highest level,” said Shahzad.