Muhammad Ashiq, who was once an avid cyclist who even represented Pakistan in the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, passed away in Lahore just six days before his 83rd birthday.
It has been reported that Ashiq had recently undergone an operation for gallstones at a hospital in Lahore, and even though he had fully recovered from the operation, his heart gave way and he died on March 11.
Ashiq’s son-in-law Muhammad Nadeem talked to reporters and told them about the ex-Olympian’s recent ailments.
“He was not well since last year and had an operation in January,” Nadeem told a local newspaper. “He had been complaining for the last two months that he isn’t able to taste the food anymore. He didn’t feel like talking anymore. He was in his 80s. It all happened very suddenly. He passed away in late hours of Saturday night and we buried him on Sunday.”
Ashiq competed in the Rome Olympics in 1960 in the Men’s sprint 1,000m time trial at the age of 25. Four years later, in the Tokyo Olympics, he participated in the individual pursuit 4,000m and team pursuit 4,000m event.
Although he did not win any Olympic medals, Ashiq did win honors at the Asian Games. He also represented Pakistan Railways at national competitions before retiring from the sport.
Despite representing Pakistan at a time when not many people used to come forward for the sport, Ashiq never got the respect and honor that he deserved. He had complained about being forsaken by the Pakistan government and he eventually had to resort to driving a rickshaw at such an old age, to make ends meet.
In the last interview that he ever gave to a news publication, Ashiq had said that his only goal in this part of his life was not to be a burden on anyone. He also said that it was disappointing to know that there is not policy or facility in Pakistan for sportsmen like him who devote their entire lives to the country.
“I go out especially on August 14, wearing the green blazer that I got for representing the country. It is to show people that they just can’t forget us like that. I wear this green blazer and drive the rickshaw to show people that this is the reality. People and the government do not care about sports personalities,” he added further.
“I just tell young people when they sit in my rickshaw for a ride that they shouldn’t take up sports. They listen to my story too, I’m happy about that.”