What's the story?
33-year-old Bilquis Mir has made the nation proud by being selected to judge water sports during the Tokyo Olympics 2020 qualifying rounds.
The famed kayaking and canoeing coach from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir had been selected by the Asian Canoe Federation to judge the sport at the 2018 Asian Games. She was only one among 20 Asians to be selected.
The first water sports coach from the valley, Mir was also adjudged the best coach at the 2018 Asiad.
Bilquis aspires to see multiple paddlers from the Valley take part in international events. Back in 2009, she also became the first woman participant to represent India in kayaking and canoeing at the “MOL ICF Sprint Racing World Cup” that was held in Hungary.
The heart of the matter
Bilquis has now added another feather to her cap by being selected as the technical team member for the Asian qualifiers for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The qualifiers will take place in Thailand in March.
Speaking to Zee News, the famous water sports coach said:
"I've been selected as a judge by the Asian Confederation office in Japan for a major tournament which is going to take place in Pattaya. I'm the first Indian woman to judge such a tournament. It's a happy moment not just for me but for my state and my country that I've got such a big platform, Olympic is a dream for every player and I'm one step away from it. My dream is to put Indian water sports players on the world map. I'm proud that I've got one more chance to not just represent Jammu & Kashmir but the whole country."
Mir has represented India in multiple events at multiple levels. She is in charge at the Water Sports Centre at Nehru Park, Dal Lake. The veteran athlete has been the coach of the Indian Canoeing team for over 10 years and leads them in various events.
She has also been appointed as the J&K State Sports Council coach and trains multiple youngsters at Dal Lake back home in addition to fulfilling her responsibilities as the national team coach.
Bilquis, who has won six Gold and 16 other medals across several national and international tournaments, further stated:
"Bilquis wouldn't have been there if this beautiful lake did not exist (referring to Dal lake). I stepped into this sport in 1998 and it didn't garner much attention at that time, but now the government is giving it full attention and the Prime Minister has given this sport Rs. 7 crore package. Our players are extremely talented and in my last 4-5 years of training them, the Jammu & Kashmir team has won 82 medals at the national level and it's not too far when we will provide players of Asian and Olympics level."
Mir aspires to change the water sports scene in the country for the better. By being selected as one of the judges for the Olympics qualifiers will definitely help in garnering limelight and popularising the sport in India.Published 20 Feb 2020, 15:42 IST