Pinning down a quest

Photo - Shabin E

Be it Olympics or any other top sporting event around the globe, one always finds a group of people who work together to collect memorabilia.

For some, it is a mere passion and for others pure business. Call them collectors, traders or just the Olympic pin collectors.

One such person right here in the Sultanate is a passionate pin collector and someone who is indeed proud of his collection.

Collectable Olympic pins have been around for many years. Owning a complete collection of Olympic pins is a tall order, but that has not stopped Dr M. Mahmood Shehabullah of the Department of Sports Medicine, Ministry of Sports Affairs.

For Dr Mahmood, it is all about creating a complete collection of Olympic pins and his eyes are already set on the Rio Olympic Games to achieve his target.

In pursuit of his quest, he has also met many distinguished and interesting people, including stars of the arena, and made new friends who harbour the same passion as he does.

His collection dates back to the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and continues right up to the recent London Games 2012. The collection has now crossed the 5,500 mark and his next ambition is to pin up his efforts into the Guinness Book of Records.

Pointing to his collection proudly, Dr Mahmood told Times Sport, "I am indeed lucky to have gotten an opportunity to attend seven Olympic Games between 1988 and 2012 as part of the Sultanate of Oman's delegation. In addition, I have also been to six Asian Games, the first being Delhi 1982 and the last in Doha 2006, three Arab Games, four Gulf Cups and all the GCC competitions hosted in Oman since 1981."

He said he was also part of the various training camps held in Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Singapore, South Korea and all the Gulf nations.

A globe trotter indeed, Dr Mahmood proclaims himself as a very passionate pin collector.

"This passion has helped me in establishing man-to-man contacts and I take pride in saying that many elite personalities who know me well are renowned sportspersons such as Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Boris Becker, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Maria Sharapova, Leander Paes, Sania Mirza, Lionel Messi, Mo Farrah, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Michael Phelps, Jürgen Klinsmann , David Beckham, and the list goes on.

"Whenever I meet people, I make sure to collect their pins and these pins (now framed to perfection) help me in rekindling passionate memories of all the events I had been to." Dr Mahmood also claimed that he was among the select few who managed to collect pins from practically all the participating nations at the Olympic Games.

"I am sure that very few people will be having pins from all the participating countries. Collecting pins is not an easy job. It's very tough to meet every individual at the venue, but I enjoyed the fun of approaching participants from all nations. I have met Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt thrice and exchanged pins with them," said Dr Mahmood, who also showcased pins collected from many other elite athletes of the world.

Passion apart, there have been times when he felt a tad disappointed, too. "Athletes getting involved in doping scandals embarrassed me as I have collected pins from some of those tainted personalities as well," he said.

"However, my passion will continue and if all goes well, I will be there at Rio 2016 as well."

Being a sports medicine specialist is helping Dr Mahmood pursue his passion.

"By virtue of having a licence to practice medicine at the venues, training area and in the Games Village hospital, I get direct access to all the athletes, which facilitates my passion in collecting the Olympic pins."

While many a top athletes are pin-up stars for our youth, Dr Mahmood is literally the Sultanate's pin-up man.


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