Curiosity triggered interest that, in turn, evolved into passion. This simply sums up the way the fencing sport became a part of Kashish Sharma’s life four years ago.
However, it is her splendid record, of never returning empty-handed from any tournament, which has established the youngster as one of the most promising fencers of the city.
But the past laurels would matter little, as Kashish gears up for the most challenging phase of her career, with three back-to-back big tournaments ready to test the mettle of the 14-year-old in the next one-and-a-half month: she will first represent Chandigarh at the 35th National Games in Kerala before heading to National Senior Fencing Championship to be held in Nasik. She will then travel to Abu Dhabi to compete in the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championship.
Incidentally, it would be the fencer’s maiden appearance at all these events, and facing some high quality competition at such a young age would not be easy.
“Right now, my mind is filled with anxiety and excitement. No doubt, I will be pitted against some of the very fine national and international players, but getting such an exposure so early in my career is a great thing. Even if I do not win the medal, participating in such high profile events will be a reward in itself as it will give me loads of experience. However, I am hoping for the best,” said the Dhanas resident, who is the youngest player in the six-member Chandigarh squad selected for the National Games.
Though Kashish’s main event is Foil (one of the three divisions of fencing sport, the other two being Epee and Sabre), she has been selected for the Epee team event of the fencing tournament of the Games starting from February 6. But she will participate in the Foil event at the senior Nationals and the Asian Championship.
While Kashish believes that her skills and abilities will stand her in good stead at the upcoming tournaments, she is also taking the help of whatever means available to hone a natural gift which, according to her, can increase her medal winning prospects.
“One factor that has contributed to my success is that I am left-handed, and my opponents face difficulty in judging my moves. This thing will also come handy at the National Games and the Asian tournament, and to add variations to my left-handed attacks I am not only practicing extra time at home but also watching videos on Youtube,” said Kashish, who studies in class ninth at Chitkara International School, Sector 25, and started fencing in 2010.
“No one in my family has ever played fencing, so my initiation into the sport was by chance. The game was introduced at my school four years ago, and trials were organised to select some beginners. The curiosity about an unheard sport prompted me to take the trials, and I was selected subsequently. Since then it has become a part of my life,” added the player, who trains under Charanjeet Kaur, the physical education teacher-cum-fencing coach at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 10.
After beginning with fencing, Kashish gave the first glimpse of her talent by winning her first medals – individual bronze and team silver – in the under-14 foil event of the UT inter-school tournament after just three months of training in the basics. In her first National School Games the same year, the fencer claimed the team silver.
Since then, her medal count has swelled considerably with every edition of the event, and her current tally stands at 12. In addition to that, Kashish has always returned with a medal from national championships, and since 2011, when she participated in her first Nationals (for under-14) and won the individual bronze in Foil, she has collected a total of four medals from the different editions of the championship.
It also includes the Foil team gold and individual bronze won last year in Raipur, which helped her make the cut in the 24-member Indian contingent for the Asian junior and cadet championship.
“A big credit for whatever I have achieved so far goes to my parents. They are my biggest support system and have never stopped me from following my heart. My main goal in life is to win medals at international events and do my parents and country proud,” adds Kashish, whose father Anil Sharma runs a sweet shop, while mother Sunita is the home manager.