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Kashmir’s teenage Wushu star Sadia wins big in Moscow !

Kashmir’s young wushu star Sadia Tariq Lone.

Winning a gold medal for India in the Olympics is the dream of Kashmir’s young wushu star Sadia Tariq Lone, a 16-year-old student of Presentation Convent Srinagar and daughter of the television journalist Tariq Lone, whose proud achievement in Moscow on Saturday  was celebrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sadia made India proud by winning the gold medal in the Moscow Wushu Stars Championship held in the Russian capital from February 22 to 28.

“Congratulations to Sadia Tariq on winning the Gold medal at the Moscow Wushu Stars Championship. Her success will inspire many budding athletes. Wishing her the very best for her future endeavours”, PM Modi said in a tweet.

Lieutenant Governor of J&K, Manoj Sinha, wished the young sports star for her brilliant success. “Congratulations to Sadia Tariq from Srinagar on winning Gold in this International championship. She exhibited great discipline, dedication, talent and mental strength making India proud with her significant accomplishment. She is an inspiration for budding sportspersons of the UT. I wish Sadia more success in future”, Sinha tweeted.

The social media across the country, particularly in Kashmir, is flooded with greetings for Sadia, her parents and coaches.

Sadia, who lives in Bemina area of Srinagar, has consecutively bagged gold medals in 19th and 20th Junior National Championship held in Haryana and Jalandhar respectively. In the Moscow Wushu Stars Championship, she bagged gold by defeating Russia on Russian soil.

Sadia has dedicatedly chosen sports as her career and wants to make India proud by getting more medals. “I don’t want to be a doctor or an engineer, my dream is to represent the country at International events and win gold for J&K and the country in Olympics'', Sadia, who lives in Srinagar’s Bemina area, asserted with full confidence ahead of her return from Moscow. She was initially booked for Delhi-Srinagar but J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is said to be keen to honour her in the Union Territory’s winter capital of Jammu on Tuesday.

“We are now rescheduling her travel plan with a deviation. Now she will land in Jammu on Tuesday (1 March)”, Sadia’s father Tariq Lone, who is waiting for her in New Delhi, told India Narrative. Secretary Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council, Nuzhat Gul, said that Sadia was a product of her organisation and the Sports Council was making all arrangements to receive Sadia at Jammu’s airport and take her to the Raj Bhawan in a rally. “We are all proud of her. We will give her maximum support and encouragement”, Gul said.

Sadia, who came into sports at a young age, did her schooling from Presentation Convent Srinagar and started playing in the school events when she was in her first grade. “When I was in my first grade our fitness teacher came to our class and announced about the sports tourney in our school, I was the first one to register for the event”, Sadia said.

Appreciating her parents' support from a very young age, Sadia said, “I remember my father just told me if I am interested in sports, he would always support me. I was very happy and chose taekwondo as the game and from the very next day I started my training”.

After training for a year, Sadia started to participate in district and division level sports events. “I went for my first competition from school level which was organized by the Indian Army at Bandipora district and I won a bronze medal. I started getting appreciation from my coaches and school administration which kept my morale high”, said Sadia.

After her success in local events, the star Wushu player started to participate in national level events. “After winning the bronze medal in local events, my coaches appreciated me and encouraged me to participate in national level events and the same year I went to New Delhi to participate in the 3rd Open India Taekwondo Championship and won a bronze medal”, she said.

Sadia then started to play on a regular basis and featured in many events like the Sub-juniors National Taekwondo championship where she won her first gold medal. In 2018, she won bronze in Hyderabad for International Junior Taekwondo Championship and also participated in Imphal, Nagaland for 64th National School Games.

Sadia’s career took a turn when she decided to switch from Taekwondo to Wushu sport. “Our Kashmir Wushu Chief Executive Officer and chief coach of India, Kuldeep Handoo, encouraged me to switch over from taekwondo to Wushu which was hard for me but I took it as a challenge and started training for Wushu”, Sadia said. After proper training, Sadia started to participate in professional Wushu events and earned her name.

“I participated in the national level Wushu championship held at Kolkata and won a bronze medal which motivated me and earned my love for this sport”, Sadia maintained.

Sadia’s elder sister also joined sports and she is a professional martial arts player. “In March 2021, I won a gold medal at the 2nd Junior National Championship at Haryana in which my sister also participated. She too played for the national level championship in Gujarat and state level championships and won a few gold medals”, Sadia revealed.

According to Sadia, engagement in sports keeps the youngsters away from mental agonies like anxiety, stress and depression. She wants all the parents in the valley to encourage their wards to take an active part in sports. She added that it was her mother’s and her own dream to represent herself at the international platform and her dream came true by bagging a gold medal at the International platform. She hoped that the government would extend every support to female sportspersons and provide them a platform to showcase their unique talent.

Nuzhat Gul asserted: “I believe parental support is most important in areas like Kashmir. We do our best but that’s not enough. Parents must encourage and support our young girls to break the glass ceiling”. She described Sadia as a sportsperson of unmatched spirit and perseverance.

Tariq Lone, who worked as television journalists with Doordarshan, India Today and other channels for the worst period of Kashmir’s insurgency and violence, said: “Sports and other such activities develop the personality of our young children in this conflict zone which has seen a lot of violence. It also keeps them away from drugs and other bad habits which are eating into the vitals of our culture and society. All parents should support their children like me”.

Lone narrated how he used to accompany his young daughter for daily practice in taekwondo and wushu since 2012. Even in the worst times of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lone would remain with Sadia at her daily practice from 6 to 9 in the morning and then again from 4 in the evening. “When in 2018, four J&K girls were selected for a national event in Nagaland, parents discouraged them for some culinary choices of the north-east people. I too advised her against going there. But she stuck to her determination. Three girls cancelled their programme but Sadia made it and returned to home with pride and honours”, Lone said.

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