Meet Bilquis Mir- First Kayaking Star From Jammu and Kashmir to Represent India at World Cup
The lakes of Kashmir offer immense potential for water sports. Kashmir’s kayaking and canoeing star Bilquis Mir trained on these water bodies, and she is now the director of the Water Sports Centre on Dal Lake.
Jammu and Kashmir’s Kayaking and Canoeing star Bilquis Mir began her career with the water sports activity when she had no role model. However, within the last few years, the famed Kayaking star emerged as an inspiration for several others. Hailing from Kashmir, the journey wasn’t an easy one for Bilquis. While detailing her story, the player and coach said that at first, they had only two boats and now she had taught around 3000 players with great equipment’s which is collected from the best part of the country.
The highlight of her career was representing India internationally. In 2009, Bilquis Mir reached the semi-finals of the World Cup which was held at Budapest, Hungary. “I started my paddling career in 1998, from this lake. At that time, we had only two boats and that too old boats. From 1998 to 2006, I represented my state, and have more than 25 national-level medals. Later, I represented my country in the 2009 World Cup. I was the first lady from Jammu & Kashmir to represent India. The world cup was held in Hungary, Budapest, Szeged. I reached the semi-finals and it was a great achievement for India because it was the first time we entered. That was the major achievement in my playing career”, she said.
Bilquis Mir also detailed her passion for water sports in the video saying, “I was very passionate about water sports but there were challenges. In our society, people think women are weak and they cannot do such activities. It was challenging, struggling and particularly for a Kashmiri girl to excel internationally, it was not easy. Because there was no awareness about sports and I belong to a Muslim family. I belong to a community where such activity is not very common.”
Talking about the challenges, Mir opined that it was a tough journey for her as at first even her parents did not support her. Instead, they wanted her to become a doctor. When asked about the negativity she had faced in her career, Mir added, “My father and mother wanted me to become a doctor. Particularly for a Kashmiri girl, there was no popularity, there was no role model. So my parents thought there was no future in this activity for me.”
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Now, her academy is filled with water sports enthusiasts who aren’t only good at strength, but they have also won several national awards. “Coaches are the backbone; you need professional manners. If we start what do we need? We need strength, we need endurance and we need flexibility, the basic component of training. When I started I had only 1 girl student and now I have more than 300 girls and I have trained more than 3000 players. In the last 3 years, we have won 120 medals at the national level”.
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