Flood-ravaged J&K braves odds at National Games

Thiruvananthapuram: Sports infrastructure worth Rs 200 crore lost in floods would have meant doom for some but the 100-strong Jammu and Kashmir contingent at the ongoing 35th National Games does not wish to be the subject of a sob story and wants to be applauded for tenacity in adversity.
A women’s rugby team comprising entirely of players from the Kashmir valley, besides participants in sports like wushu, athletics, kabaddi and handball among others, the Jammu and Kashmir contingent has already scripted its share of history at the Games by clinching the women’s all-round team gold in gymnastics for the first time.
“Infrastructure worth Rs 200 crore was washed away in last year’s floods, we had to shift our rugby camp from the valley to Jammu but we don’t wish to be talked about for negative reasons. The miracle is that we are participating and by god’s grace and the hard work of our athletes, we are doing well,” J&K’s chef-de-mission Hardeep Singh Gill told PTI.
“Adversities are a part and parcel of life, the more important thing is to get over them. There was a time when there was no infrastructure at all and our athletes were still giving results, now they have all the basic facilities in place and they continue to give good results,” he said.
The state has so far clinched two gold, one silver and three bronze medals in the ongoing Games and expects to add to the tally through wushu, kabaddi and even athletics.
“We will add more in the coming days. Jammu and Kashmir has always shown itself to be resurgent state in sports. Our boys and girls have always turned adversity into advantage and these Games will be no different. Coming from a cold state, we had to acclimatise quickly to the high temperatures here and we have dine reasonably well on that front,” said Gill.
Palak Bijral, the 18-year-old gymnast who won an individual gold in ball apparatus besides being a part of the team that won the all-round top honours, said the sporting scene in the state is improving at a steady pace despite the usual hurdles of bureaucratic red tapism.
“No doubt, there are problems but things are improving as well. Our practice facilities are getting better and hopefully the results would also get better with time,” she said.
“We cannot always be negative about what we have, I would say right now the system is more transparent than earlier and the athletes are getting much more support,” added Gill.
Jammu and Kashmir also has some sporting infrastructure in collaboration with the Army but the team representatives say that it is not good enough to train athletes.
“The Army does a few things as part of its Sadbhavna Mission but we cannot use most of that infrastructure because it is of sub-standard quality. But as I said, the overall infrastructure has improved in the last few years.
“What matters in the end is the athlete’s will to succeed and that is the reason Jammu and Kashmir has always done reasonably well at the national level,” said Gill. (PTI)

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