KARACHI: Pakistan’s talented young swimmer and four-time national gold medalist Faizan Akbar mysteriously went missing in Hungary just hours after arriving last week to compete in the 19th FINA World Championships, which are currently underway.
According to reliable sources, the 22-year-old Gujar Khan-born swimmer decided to rest at a hotel after arriving in Budapest and then vanished.
A reliable source close to the situation told this correspondent that his roommate, who had come down for breakfast, had called Faizan and asked him to join. Faizan said he’d be there, but didn’t show up. He had checked out of the hotel.
Sources said that Faizan disappeared from the scene after taking his necessary belongings and left his Pakistan shirt at the hotel room.
Faizan was set to feature in 100m backstrokes on June 19, but missed the event.
Faizan belongs to a highly respectable department which he joined in 2017. His brother Zeeshan Akbar is also a swimmer of the same department whose name is not being disclosed. Zeeshan was also part of Pakistan’s 4×200 meter freestyle relay team which took bronze in the 2019 South Asian Games in Nepal.
This correspondent learned that when Faizan’s department was informed about the incident by Pakistan Swimming Federation (PSF) through a letter, it took every step to inform Pakistan’s embassy in Hungary, the local police and other relevant wings in order to find the swimmer. However, so far no success has been achieved.
Sources said that having a Schengen visa, Faizan might have entered some other European country. In the wake of the incident, Faizan’s name was dropped by his parent department from Pakistan’s swimming squad which is set to feature in the Commonwealth Games slated to be held in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8.
“Yes, he has been dropped from the Commonwealth Games squad,” a source privy to the development said.
It was also learned that this happened with the relevant department after 15 to 16 years that one of its athletes took such an illegal step.
The PSF has sent a four-member squad to Budapest for the World Championship. The other swimmers, Amaan Siddiqui, Jehanara Nabi, and Bismah Khan, are busy flexing their muscles in their respective events. The global event will conclude on July 3.
Sources said that Faizan’s father was called by the relevant department. The father reportedly looked quite relaxed.
The sources said that his father belongs to a well-off family and keeps expensive horses as he and his other son also participate in tent-pegging.
The sources said that as per the rules, Faizan toured Budapest after signing an undertaking and his family will have to pay a penalty of Rs2 million.
This correspondent tried to get the input of PSF chairman Major (retd) Majid Waseem but neither did he receive the call nor did he reply to the message on his WhatsApp number.