Starting year on a high, Jass aims for more laurels

  • Kuldeep Panwar, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Nov 10, 2014 19:14 IST

Call it the work of the genes or the ambience she grew up in, but the bottomline is that Jass was destined to be a sportsperson. After all, her late grandfather Gyan Chand Pandori was a volleyball player in the Army, while her father Rashpal Singh represented his institution in the inter-school football tournaments. However, when it came to Jass to choose a sporting discipline, she opted for taekwondo.

“Since childhood, I have been drawn to action movies and combat sports like boxing and wrestling. Players’ aggression thrills me. Five years ago, during a summer coaching camp in our school, I tried to learn some basics of taekwondo. That was when my present coach spotted me,” shares the youngster, who trains under coach Ashish Khandelwal at Shishu Niketan School, Sector 43, and studies in Class 9th at the same institution.

The coach was right on the money in assessing the girl’s potential, and she, too, gave some early signs of her talent. Just four months into training, and Jass earned her first medal – the gold – in the UT inter-school taekwondo tournament for under-14 girls; she continues to be the champion at the event. That gold also helped the player qualify for her maiden School Nationals, held in Mumbai.

“I clinched the bronze at the School Nationals, and it gave me the confidence of believing that I also belonged to big league,” added Jass, who got her second School Nationals medal (bronze) last year in Madhya Pradesh. In zonal and state championships also, Jass has put up fine performances a number of times, collecting a total of seven medals – four gold, two silver and one bronze – from these.

“However, the highest point of my just-begun career is winning the silver medal at my first national championship (for under17 players) in Kurukshetra last May, as it gave me the opportunity to represent India at the 1st Cadet World Taekwondo Championship a couple of months later. The event, held in Azerbaijan, was my maiden international outing, and it felt great to represent the country. Besides, it also brought along much needed experience as well as the knowledge of how foreign players train,” added Jass, who claims to be part of one more, record-breaking feat earlier this year.

“A group of 40 taekwondo players, from Chandigarh and Hyderabad,, got our names entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for hitting a total of 53, 222 full contact kicks in one hour at an event held in Andhra Pradesh. The previ-ous record of 49,000 was made last year in the USA.”

On being asked about her greatest desire in life, Jass throws up an unconventional answer. “I want to be a coach. I feel that taekwondo is not as popular as it needs to be. By becoming a coach, I want to produce world class trainees and make taekwondo popular. As of the immediate plans, I am looking for-ward to continue the good work in the inter-school and state cham-pionships.”

“With Indian sportswomen like Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal breaking on to the international stage and cornering glory, parents have started believing that, apart from academics, their daughters can also make a name for themselves through sports. This change in mindset accounts for the increase in the number of girls joining sports nowadays.”

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