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J&K's Bilquis Mir appointed senior canoeing kayaking judge at Asian Games

SRINAGAR: Bilquis Mir, the former kayaking and canoeing player from Srinagar and the first water sports coach from the region, has achieved the distinction of becoming the first Indian woman to be appointed as the 'finishing chief judge' at the Asian Games, beginning in Hangzhou on Saturday.

Mir, who hails from Khanyar area of the city, said it was a proud moment for her.

"I am the first woman from India to have been included in this jury panel," Mir told PTI on Wednesday.

"I will be the chief judge at the finishing point in kayaking, canoeing and canoe sprint events at Hangzhou. It is a very crucial position and it's an honour for me. It's a dream come true. I would like to dedicate this success to those girls who will take up this sport in future," she said.

Mir, who turned to coaching after a career as a player, said more women are in decision-making positions in the sport.

"When I started competing as a player, I saw very few women players being given such responsibilities, but today women are (in) decision-making process," she said.

Mir said there was an abundance of talent in Jammu and Kashmir which can be nurtured to become top-level athletes.

"In the last four years, water sports has given most of the medals to J&K. I am sure, this game will produce thousands like me from here who will make the country proud. We have a lot of scope in women's sports. You will soon see women from the region representing the country in the Asian Games and Olympics," she added.

Mir is hopeful the Indian contingent will put up a good show at the Games.

"I am very hopeful our country's athletes will bring (a lot of) medals... the girls will also make the country proud."

Burhan Bazaz, president J&K Rowing and Sculling Association said Mir's selection was a moment to celebrate.

"I would like to congratulate Mir. It is a proud moment for Jammu and Kashmir. It is something we should celebrate," Bazaz said.

He said Mir has become an inspiration for thousands of girls and boys.

Bushra and Shaista, two aspiring water sports athletes, said they want to emulate their coach Mir.

"I am happy as my coach has been selected as a jury. It is a proud moment. She is a role model for us," Bushra said.

"If she can do it, we can also do it. I also want to be successful just like her," Shaista said.

Mariya Jan, Mir's sister, said she did not get much support from the family when she started out.

"Initially, my sister did not get any family support and people were just making fun. When my sister started making an identity in the sport, the family started feeling proud," said Jan.

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