NetSol hires former Pakistani Olympian-turned-rickshaw driver

The 81-year-old was left with no choice but to become a rickshaw driver in Lahore to make ends meet. PHOTO: AFP

The 81-year-old was left with no choice but to become a rickshaw driver in Lahore to make ends meet. PHOTO: AFP

Days after the heart-wrenching story about a former Pakistani Olympian who became a rickshaw driver to make ends meet went viral, a Pakistan-based company has offered to hire the 81-year-old.

Former Olympian Muhammad Ashiq who competed for Pakistan at the 1960 and the 1964 Olympics, was introduced by NetSol Technologies Limited as a ‘member of the NetSol family’, on their official Facebook page.

From Olympic cycling hero to rickshaw driver in Lahore

“His current designation is National Sports Ambassador.
This is a proud moment for NetSol and an inspiration for our nation,” the post read.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, human resource officer at NetSol’s Karachi office Farhan Malik said, “Muhammad Ashiq is officially a part of NetSol now. He has been posted in the company’s Lahore office as the National Sports Ambassador.”

Ashiq began his sporting career as a boxer, switching to cycling in the 1950s when his wife complained about his injuries. He competed in Rome in 1960 and Tokyo in 1964 and though he won no medals, he was hailed as a national hero for Pakistan. “I was so happy… I considered myself lucky to represent Pakistan in the Olympics,” he earlier said.

But when his cycling career ended, so did his luck. He took a PR job but left it for health reasons in 1977. He briefly drove a taxi and a van then bounced around several other small business ideas, but for the last six years had been reduced to driving a rickshaw, ferrying low-income passengers around Lahore’s bustling, choked streets.

24 Pakistani Olympians to watch at Rio 2016

He lives in a 450 square foot house on which he owes more than one million rupees ($9,500) — a near-insurmountable amount, given his rickshaw salary of roughly 400 rupees per day.

His wife has passed away, and his four children no longer live with him, he says, adding he does not want to be dependent on them.

He used to hang his medals in his rickshaw, but not anymore. Instead, the canopy is inscribed with a twist on the famous quote by former US President Calvin Coolidge: “Nations and states who forget their heroes can never be prosperous.”

Original news :