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Terror, failed marriage can’t deter Kashmir woman Abida from landing wushu blows

Wushu champion Abida Akhtar was barely 18 months old when her father, who was with the Jammu & Kashmir police force, was killed by terrorists

other sports Updated: Jul 27, 2017 12:21 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Abida Akhtar,Jammu and Kashmir,Kashmir
Abida Akhtar with the medal she won in the 48kg (sanshou event) at the Malaysia Wushu International Championships.(HT Photo)

Abida Akhtar’s hardships started before she could even understand the world and the circumstances around her. She was barely 18 months old when her father Khushi Mohammad, in the Jammu & Kashmir Police, fell to the bullets of terrorists. With the sole bread earner gone and without any land or other source of income, the family of four, including Abida’s mother and two siblings, struggled to make ends meet.

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Her struggle didn’t end. An arranged marriage ended her sporting career and the couple was divorced in two years. It was again sports that provided succor, and on Sunday the 25-year-old Wushu player made the country proud with a podium finish in the 48kg (sanshou event) in the Malaysia Wushu International Championships.

“It’s a dream come true for me. After the marriage, I never thought I would be able to pursue sports. It was a blessing in disguise that my two-year-old marriage ended in divorce and I again entered the beautiful world of sports,” a delighted Abida, who hails from Gojarpatti in Bandipore, one of the most terrorist-affected districts of Jammu and Kashmir, told Hindustan Times.

“Initially after my divorce, I was quite upset and due to the fear of society, I remained in isolation. It took me a year to get out of it. But because of my family and coach Faisal Ali, I was able to get back to the mainstream again. I started training only last year and I am thankful God has paid the dividend for my hard work.”

The beginning

It was Faisal Ali’s demonstration of martial arts in the school that introduced 17-year-old Abida to sports. Though she had to trek five kilometers in rough terrain and travel another eight km by auto or public transport, Abida never skipped training, winning a national medal in kickboxing after just two years.

“I have seen so much in life the definition of hardship has totally changed for me. And the circumstances under which my mother took care of the kids, she even had to do small household things to raise us with dignity, have given me immense courage to fight against odds,” said Abida.

Marital discord

Although Abida earned a name in sports in a short time, marriage is compulsory in her region once the girls are out of their teens or finish graduation. She was giving her BA final year exams when she got married (2013). And marriage ended her sporting career.

“The circumstances at my in-laws’ place was not favourable and I could not think of pursuing sports. For me, it was a disturbed marriage and I decided to move out of the relationship. I always have my mother’s backing and she backed me even in this decision,” says Abida.

“Even earlier when I used to train, people in the locality used to tell my mother that girls are not meant for sports, but my mother never paid any heed. So, when after the divorce, I again thought of resuming training on the pursuance of Faisal sir, my mother was the one who not only stood by my decision, but also motivated me to do well in sports.”

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 12:15 IST