Kiran Khan

Kiran Khan

Kiran Khan (born December 21, 1989 in Lahore, Pakistan) is national female swimmer of Pakistan. Khan has swam for the Pakistani team in the Asian Games as well as the Commonwealth Games, in addition to several other international swimming meets.

International competitions

Khan is the daughter of a former international Pakistan swimmer Khalid Zaman Khan. Her elder brother Sikander Khan too is a prominent national swimmer. Both represented the country in the 9th FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Manchester, England, in April 2008.

Khan appeared in six different events in Manchester, her best result being an overall 37th ranking in the 50 metres backstroke in which she swam the distance in her preliminary race in 32.94 seconds. She also took part in the 50 metres freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 50m butterfly and 100m individual medley.

Khan has been quite successful at the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, which are now known simply as the South Asian Games. These are competed by the eight member nations of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation. Khan has picked up as many as 16 medals in just two editions of the Games.

Khan won six silver and two bronze medals at Islamabad 2004 and another two silver and six bronze at Colombo 2006. Overall, the Pakistan female swimmers have a total of 27 medals in the South Asian Games — no gold, 10 silver and 17 bronze. Khan’s share is eight silver and as many bronze medals.

Since the Pakistani women began competing at the international level, some six years ago, only one gold medal has come their way in a multi-nation event. Kiran got one at the South Asian Swimming and Water Polo Championship, staged in Islamabad as recently as September 2007.

Kiran won the 50 metres butterfly gold in a new national record time, in a competition where India dominated and Sri Lanka were a close second. Kiran finished ahead of Fariha Zaman of India and Miniruwani Samarakoon of Sri Lanka.

Kiran’s medal was the first gold overall since Kamal Salman Masud won three such medals in the male swimming events — one in the 1993 SAF Games in Dhaka and two more at Kathmandu 1999 in the same competition. Kiran timed 30.35 seconds to improve her own national record of 31.40 seconds.

Kamal Masud, now settled in Pakistan, has surely been one of Pakistan’s most outstanding swimmers. He won two wild card entries into the Olympic Games, the first at Atlanta 1996 when he was only 17 years old and the other at Sydney 2000. Even he, however, ended at the rear or thereabouts in his 100 metres butterfly heats on either occasion.

Opposition to female competitors

As is with most sports in Pakistan, which are competed by female participants in public, swimming has been a target of concern by people in the country. It is mostly because of the swimming costume involved which is believed sinful by Muslims. Although there have been no physical attacks on women sports-persons in Pakistan, people have shown visible disapproval of girls taking up sports, when the spectators are men. This happened especially when female swimmers first went abroad to appear at the international level.

Women sports, however, have continued to flourish in their own limited circuit for a good number of years in Pakistan, in spite of the constraints, quite poor training facilities and a lack of substantial financial support.

In the women’s events, Kiran was 108th out of 128 in the 100 metres freestyle, 74th out of 93 in the 50 metres butterfly and 62nd out of 93 in the 50 metres backstroke. She swam her best event of the 50m butterfly in 31.56 seconds, which was 5.22 seconds slower than the winner of her heat.

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