Paris Olympics: Bilquis Mir from J&K becomes first woman to represent India as jury member, calls it ‘proud moment’

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New Delhi: Bilquis Mir from Jammu and Kashmir is set to become the first woman from India to represent the country as a jury member at this year’s Summer Olympics, which is to be hosted by Paris from July 26 to August 11.
Gir’s appointment as a jury member for the Paris Games was official conveyed through a letter from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

“Bilquis Mir, water sports promoter, developer, athlete, jury member of Indian Kayaking and Canoeing association has been nominated as the member of the jury to officiate at the Paris Olympics games. She is the first person from India to be appointed as a jury member at the Paris Olympics,” the IOA stated in the letter to the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

Chuffed to bits at her appointment as a jury member for the Summer Olympics, which is considered the pinnacle of sports, Bilquis said it was a like a dream coming true for her as the Olympics is the ‘ultimate destination’ not just for athletes but for sport promoters like herself.

Sharing her thoughts to ANI on her appointment as a jury member for the Summer Games, Bilquis said she started her journey as a canoeist from Dal Lake in 1998 and went on to represent the country in the country. She said she is the former coach of the women’s canoeing team that will represent India at the Paris Games this year, adding that she was also a jury member at last year’s Asian Games at Hangzhou, China.

Recalling the days prior to the revocation of the constitutional privileges in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, she said it was very difficult for a Kashmiri girl to take up sports back in the day but she took up canoeing in earnest, negotiating and overcoming the many challenges that came along the way.

She said she found her true calling as a canoeist, which was a sport virtually unheard of in Jammu and Kashmir at the time, and went on to represent the country at the world championships. “This is a proud moment not just for me or the UT of Jammu and Kashmir but the entire country. I consider it an honour to represent my country as a member of the pretigious jury at the Paris Olympics. I was also a jury member at the Hangzhou Asian Games. This isn’t just a moment of trimuph for me but all girls or women who aspire to excel in sports. Only two jury members from Asia has been picked this time (for the Summer Games), with the other being from Japan,”.

She cleared the exam for being a jury member at top sporting events in 2008 and earned praise for her conduct and performance in the panel at last year’s Hangzhou Asian Games. Thanking her parents, family members and well-wishers, who supported her along the way, Bilquis said, “I started my career as a canoeist in 1998 from Dal Lake, when it was a challenge for a girl to even wear a tracksuit. I represented the UT at national events for 12 years before featuring for my country in the world championships. I was even the coach of the (women’s) national team for 10 years. I qualified for this exam in 2008, in Germany, where I was selected as the second-best judge.”

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