Shakir Rashid Mir, an athlete from Jammu and Kashmir earned silver medal in the recently concluded 30th North Zone Junior Athletics Championship which was held at Rohtak, Haryana from 6th to 7th October. Shakir, who participated in 4x100 meters relay U-20 category, achieved silver in the championship.
The J&K athletics team won five medals which include two silver and three bronze medals. Vasu Sapolia bagged silver in 100 meters while Abhinav Kundal bagged bronze in 400 meters U-20 category and Ayushman Singh claimed bronze in U-18 category.
In one of the team event, comprising of Vasu Sapolia, Shakir Rashid, Abhinav Kundal and Iftkhar Ahmad clinched silver in 4x100 meters.
In another team event, comprising of Abrar Choudhary, Amarjeet Singh, Iftikhar Ahmad and Abhinav Kundal clinched bronze medal in 4x400 U-20 category.
Talking to Rising Kashmir Shakir said that it was a great opportunity for state athletes to gain new experience and boost exposure by participating in the championship.
“It feels good to perform in such events and I’m happy that I grabbed silver medal. The state athletes get an opportunity to learn from these competitions and to get acquainted with the level of different of competition,” he said.
Hailing from Shadipora, Sumbal of district Bandipora, Shakir started his athletic career a couple of years ago. He has participated in North Zone Junior Championship twice so far in which he has won silver and bronze medal respectively for the state.
“Competition was very tough but when you believe in yourself then no one can stop you from doing it. I was little apprehensive at first as the athletes from other states were highly competitive but my will power was strong and whatever my coach, Tahir Mir had taught me, I kept those tips in my mind and applied the same during the course of event. I don’t have words to express my gratitude to my coach,” he said.
However, the lack of athletic infrastructure, equipments and facilities is holding back Shakir from achieving further success.
“When we participate in other states we have to run on synthetic track which is a fairy tale in Kashmir. The athletes from J&K are not habitual of running on synthetic track which hinders our progress. Lack of facilities and synthetic athletic track are biggest hurdles for J&K athletes or else I would have claimed gold medal in this championship,” Shakir believes.
He says that J&K state lags far behind in athletics and the athletes of the valley are compelled to run on uneven playfields.
“We have to run on uneven patches of land which proves detrimental for us. If the government and J&K State Sports Council will give attention to this sport as received by other games and take some pains to build synthetic track then no one can stop athletics to rise in the state,” he said.
The 19-year-old Shakir, has participated in various National and State Championships besides in many other road races and relays.
He says that he was getting many opportunities to participate in various championships but due to lack of financial support he was not able to do so.
“Because of lack of financial support I have skipped many championships. Sport Council has never come on forefront to provide any support to the athletes of the state. It really seems that Sports Council is in deep slumber when it comes to athletics discipline,” he said.
Meanwhile, after reaching his hometown Bandipora, Shakir was accorded with a warm reception by the district administration Bandipora.
“It was good to see that district administration Bandipora especially Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Dr Shahid Chaudhary gave me a warm welcome. But unfortunately Sports Council showed cold shoulder, they didn’t even congratulate me. They (Sports Council officials) don’t even know that an athlete from valley has won medal which is quite disheartening and unfortunate from the part of council,” he rued.
Moreover, Jammu and Kashmir Athletics Association, President Sunil Mahajan also extended his greetings and happiness and said he will try his best to get him sponsorship.
“I will make efforts that Shakir will be adopted by a Delhi based NGO, which will take care of all the expenses of Shakir Rashid besides his coaching to groom and nurture him on professional lines,” he said. Earlier, the J&K athletics team received warm reception from the J&K Athletics Association. Shakir says that athletics is a very beautiful game and youth should come forward to get into it.
“Athletics is called mother of all sports. Youth should come forward to take part in athletics as it is the Olympic discipline and they can reach at higher levels in this sport,” he said and added, “Athletics is my passion and I want to live with it.”