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Kuldeep Handoo receives J&K’s 1st Dronacharya Award

JAMMU: A long journey for young cricket enthusiast, who shifted his focus to martial art and then decided to practice Wushu, on Saturday culminated with presentation of country's prestigious award for coaching, Dronacharya Award.

The Award was president by President of India, Ram Nath Kovind in the presence of Union Sports Minister, Kiren Rijiju in a virtual mode on National Sports Day at Chandigarh.

The Award carries citation, trophy and Rs 10 lakh in cash. The award money has been doubled from existing Rs 5 lakh as a boost to the sports.

It was not easy going for Kuldeep, who came from a modest family, which had to migrate from Kashmir in 1990 and struggled for survival.

"I was a cricket enthusiast during my school days and even went to Jammu's MA Stadium for training in 1992. However, finding it difficult to enter the world of cricket, it was decided by me and one of my friends to train in crazy martial art. In 1994 we got a guru in Vishal Sharma (lost his life in a road accident), who groomed me into a champion in a very short span of time," said Kuldeep Handoo while narrating his story in an interview aired today by Radio Kashmir Jammu (RKJ).

With his first gold in 1995, Kuldeep never looked back and remained National champion for 11 long years.

"I remained National champion for 11 consecutive years before winning prestigious gold in National Games and then in the Asian Championship," disclosed Handoo.

Finding a high spirited young man from J&K bringing laurels for the country at the international level, the founder of Wushu in the country, late Anand Kacker, who infact brought the Chinese game in India in 1989, made Kuldeep Handoo India coach for junior team in 2006.

"After becoming junior team coach in 2006, the Wushu Association of India entrusted me with the task of shaping the senior team in 2009. A year later, in 2010, I was elevted a chief coach of the country," mentioned Handoo.

Under Kuldeep's coaching, Wushu attained new heights and India won first ever gold at the World Championship after 25 years.

"With a team of dedicated coaches and wholehearted support from the Federation, I succeeded in taking Indian Wushu sport to new height. With sheer hardwork of the entire team, India is presently world rank three from earlier poor 40th position. We are behind only China and Iran," proudly said Handoo.

While spending most his time at the National scene, Handoo also produced champions from home state of J&K. To name a few, Bhanu Pratap Singh and Rajinder Singh are the examples. Both these players have won medals at the World stage.


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