The Indian kayaking and canoeing team for the Asian Games at Guangzhou, China, has set its eyes on at least three gold medals, says national coach Bilquis Mir.
Mir, the first Kashmiri woman to become the national kayaking and canoeing coach of India, and who won the Jammu and Kashmir Government's award for outstanding sportsperson this year, has been overseeing the 15-member team's final preparations on the scenic backwaters of Alappuzha.
Along with Hungarian coach couple Jozsef Barina and Gabriella Ritt Barina and co-Indian coach U.R. Abhayan, Mir, on her first visit to the backwaters, says India is all set to better the country's record haul of 101 medals in the recent Commonwealth Games.
The kayaking and canoeing team, despite a few technical hassles, including the lack of carbon-coblar boats that will be used in China, has “put in everything” to see that nothing goes wrong.
“India's potential in kayaking and canoeing and even in rowing is immense. Unfortunately, in a cricket-crazy nation, such water sports have not received deserving attention,” she feels.
Talking to The Hindu during the team's practice session near the Sports Authority of India's Water Sports Centre in the middle of the Vembanad Lake, Mir said she had faced several challenges and obstacles on her way, some of it which could be attributed to the circumstances in her State.
“The atmosphere in Kashmir is not exactly encouraging for sportspersons. But if you put in hard work, it surely does pay,” says the resident of Dalgate in the strife-torn Srinagar.
Mir, who plans to set up a kayaking and canoeing club in the valley, is confident that her team can win medals in the 1000m singles, 1000m doubles and the 200m doubles.
Though she will not be accompanying the team to Guangzhou, Mir signs off saying that her mind will be with the team members right from November 15 when they fly to China.
Keywords: Asian Games