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Palak Kour Bijral, India’s finest rhythmic gymnast from J&K receives State Award

Palak Kour Bijral, an international rhythmic gymnast with more than 60 medals under her belt has been conferred with prestigious State Award. Her streak of winning medals makes her India’s finest sportsperson in Artistic Gymnastics and proud daughter of the soil.

Read some excerpts of her interview with Jammu Links News:

Q1: Would you please introduce yourself to JLN readers? When did you start your journey in sports?

I am an international gymnast. I have represented Jammu and Kashmir in several Nationals and India on international platform. Actually, my father introduced me to sports when I was five or six and I chose gymnastics just for fun. But later, I started enjoying it so headed in the same direction. Then my coach, Krupali Patel trained and supported me like her own child throughout the journey. 

Q2: Who introduced you to gymnastics? How intense was your training in the beginning?

Firstly, my father and then my coach helped me to get into rhythmic gymnastics. I was 10 when I went to Bangkok for 45-day summer coaching camp and the experience was so intense and surreal that it solidified my passion for the sport. I used to train for 10-12 hours with short breaks in between and finally played my first national in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in 2007 where I won 3 gold medals and 1 silver under sub-junior category.

Q3: When did you do international debut? And since then, how many competitions have you taken part in till date?

Frankly, I cannot even recall but I know that I’ve won more than 60 medals in my 16-year long career and attended 7-8 international events. I remember that for my first international event in Russia, only four girls from India were selected and I was one the only player from J&K.

Q4: Who has supported you throughout your journey? What obstacles you have crossed to reach this pedestal today?

My father, mother and my coach are the three strong pillars of my shining career. They have supported me immensely through thick and thin. The challenges were in terms of recurrent physical injuries during training sessions, dearth of funds for the game and delay in boosting morale. But somehow, I did not lose hope and kept going for more by training harder each time. Several universities approached me to represent them in Inter-University so I finally represented Chandigarh three times. I would say that it was blessing in disguise for me because I got immense respect and recognition there.

Also, talking about challenges, there was this one particular incident in which I fractured my foot two weeks before Nationals and I was disheartened because I was preparing for the competition for months together. With everyone’s support, I got my plaster removed, took painkillers and participated in the event. Surprisingly, I won gold in that competition which further firmed my resolve to excel.

Q6: What motivates you to wake up and train everyday? 

As I already mentioned, my father introduced me to sports when I was six so discipline became a part of my life very early on. I had a habit of reaching stadium at 5 a.m. in the morning and train hard. This discipline helped me in other aspects of life too.

Q7: You’ve recently been conferred with State Award. How does it feel to receive so much recognition at such a young age?

It definitely feels amazing and motivates me to reach greater heights in life. I’ve also been awarded with All Round Best Award for outstanding performance in sports by President of India,Ram Nath Kovind in 2019 which was again a magical moment for me.I’m truly indebted to my sports for moulding me into the person that I am today.

Q8: Any message for budding sportspersons and youngsters?

I would advise everyone to follow their passion with full determination and courage because regrets are harder to deal with. Focus on things that bring you happiness and keep going.

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Author

Hardeep Bali