Dronacharya Award for J&K coach Kuldeep Handoo
Kuldeep Handoo, a wushu coach for team India, was conferred with the prestigious Dronacharya Award on Saturday. He is the first person from the Union Territory to receive the award.
He will receive the award from president Ram Nath Kovind on August 29 at Delhi. Handoo was an adolescent Kashmiri Pandit when fled from Kashmir with his family due to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
A modern-day Eklavya himself, before getting tutored by taekwondo coach Vishal Sharma, he practised on an uneven ground near the boxing rink at the MA stadium with a handful of players, who liked the game.
“Undoubtedly, it is a moment of pride for me, my family, my fraternity and for the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. Years of struggle and hard work has eventually paid off. I am the first coach from Jammu and Kashmir, who has been conferred this prestigious honour,” Handoo said.
“Inspr Kuldeep Handoo awarded with #Dronacharya Award as National Chief coach for Wushu @HMOIndia, @manojsinha_”, wrote IGP Jammu Mukesh Singh on his Twitter handle.
At present, Handoo, is working as an inspector in the Jammu and Kashmir Police. In 1995, he won the first gold in the sixth National Wushu Championship at Mizoram and never looked back.
Handoo said the then chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah was impressed by his skills and had him appointed in the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the sports quota.
Handoo in his long drawn out career of over 25 years has won 11 gold medals in national championships and six international medals.
“This is not the end. I aim to bring home a gold medal in the upcoming 2022 Asian Games,” he says, adding that prior to Asian Games, the Indian squad will take part in the World Championships scheduled to be held in 2021 in the US and Australia.
“An inspiration and role model for youngsters, Handoo has come a long way and greatly deserved this award”, says sports analyst Sanjeev Sharma.
Under Handoo, India won two gold medals in world championships and one in the world cup, 28 silver medals and 57 bronze medals in different championships.
He has already been honoured with prestigious Sher-i-Kashmir Award and Parshuram Award.