SRINAGAR: Bilquis Mir, an international water sports coach and Kayaking star hailing from Kashmir, has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first Indian woman athlete appointed as one of the jury members for the upcoming 19th Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, China, starting on September 23, 2023.
Bilquis Mir, who also holds the esteemed position of Director of Water Sports in Jammu and Kashmir, will play a crucial role in evaluating the performances of hundreds of athletes from across Asia competing in various sports categories. Her appointment as a jury member for Canoeing sport at the Asian Games is a significant achievement, marking a proud moment for Indian sports.
Expressing her delight, Bilquis Mir stated, “I am very happy, and it is a proud moment for me as an athlete. I worked hard and sacrificed a lot to achieve this feat. The Asian Games is a prestigious event that brings together top athletes from around the world in different sports categories.”
Bilquis will join a distinguished jury panel that includes members from countries such as Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Korea, and more. Her selection as a jury member for the Asian Games stands as a monumental achievement not only for herself but also for the sports fraternity of Kashmir and the entire nation.
Bilquis Mir has consistently worn multiple hats of success and dedication, serving as an inspiration to countless young players aspiring to excel in water sports. Born in the Khanyar area of Srinagar, she embarked on her educational journey at SA Modern School Babar Shah and later graduated from Women’s College, Maulana Azad Road in Srinagar.
Her journey into water sports began at an early age, at a time when the concept of sports in Kashmir was still emerging. Undeterred by the challenges, Bilquis remained determined. Between 1998 and 2006, she represented Jammu and Kashmir, accumulating more than 25 national-level medals.
Bilquis is not only a decorated athlete but also the first woman from Jammu and Kashmir to coach the National team. Her remarkable achievements extend to being the first Indian woman participant in the ICF Sprint Racing World Cup in Kayaking and Canoeing, held in Szeged, Hungary, in 2009.
Bilquis holds the distinction of being the first Indian woman in Kayaking and Canoeing to be inducted into an international referee panel. She was appointed as the National Coach (chief) of the Women’s Team in Kayaking and Canoeing leading up to the 2012 Olympics in London. Bilquis also served as the National Coach for the National Coaching Camp of CANOE ALAOM SENIOR from January 2007 to March 2015 in Bhopal.
Her commitment to the sport extends to international borders, as she conducted a strength and conditioning course at the University of Birmingham, UK, making her the first Indian Woman in Kayaking and Canoeing to achieve this distinction.
Bilquis Mir’s dedication led to her appointment as the Chief Coach of the Women’s National Team, which participated in the under 23 Canoe Slalom World Championship held in Italy in 2018. In 2020, she was appointed as a judge by the Asian Canoe Federation to conduct the 18th Asian Games Canoe Spirit in Indonesia, serving as an International Technical Official (ITO).
Proudly representing India at the international level, Bilquis is enthusiastic about the growing participation of girls in water sports, finding it encouraging for the future of the sport.
Looking ahead, Bilquis aspires to elevate Indian water sports to global recognition and aims to identify talent not only in Jammu & Kashmir but also in other regions of the country where water sports are gaining popularity.
Bilquis runs a water sports training centre at Nehru Park in Srinagar, regarded as one of the best centers in the country. Over the years, nearly 200 students have received free training, equipped with world-class equipment. She expressed her commitment to popularizing the sport in the valley, contributing to its growth