Battling odds, Kashmir’s para athlete Gowhar Ahmad shines bright on canoeing

Battling odds, Kashmir's para athlete Gowhar Ahmad shines bright on canoeing

(Dr. Shujaat Ali Quadri)


A young para athlete from central Kashmir’s Budgam district, Gowhar Ahmad, has emerged from the shadows of despair to become a symbol of hope and resilience for youth with special physical abilities.

His incredible transformation from the brink of self-destruction to national recognition in para canoeing is a testament to the power of determination and unbreakable spirit.
Recalling her worst moments, Gowhar revealed, “There was a time when I had decided to commit suicide and I went to Zero Bridge for this. Then suddenly, a ray of hope emerged.”

Gowhar’s path took a turn when he decided to join water sports. He got support from Bilques Mir, Srinagar’s first water sports coach and the first Olympic level female kayaking and canoeing player. Mir’s guidance gave a new direction to Gowhar.

Last year, in 2022, Gowhar participated in the Para Canoe event organized at Upper Lake, Bhopal.

Despite the odds stacked against him, he emerged as an impressive competitor and finished an impressive fourth place. The audience was astonished when Gowhar displayed his true potential on the national stage.

This achievement was the result of Gowhar’s unwavering dedication, continuous training and the unwavering support of her coach Bilques Mir. Mir not only boosted Gowhar’s morale but also provided significant financial support to enable his participation in the competition. Their bond went beyond the roles of coach and athlete and became a lifeline for Gowhar in her darkest moments.

Mir recognized the extraordinary spirit within Gowhar and reflected on their journey together, “When I first met Gowhar, I saw an amazing level of strength in her. His determination to excel in para canoeing and his unwavering spirit to never give up inspired me as a coach. Together, we began a training programme that challenged him physically. And mentally, pushing his limits turned him into a formidable athlete.”

“Bilkis Mir has been my guiding light and pillar of strength throughout this journey. Their belief in my abilities and unwavering support have helped me overcome my inner demons and find the courage to pursue my dreams.

Despite his physical challenges, Gowhar’s training regime mirrors that of any other elite athlete. Endless hours of practice, rigorous workouts and honing technical skills have become his lifestyle. Her unwavering commitment has broken the stereotypes associated with disability sports and inspired her to move forward,” said Gowhar.
Gowhar’s journey serves as a reminder to society that individuals with special physical abilities are defined not by their limitations but by their determination and courage. Through his accomplishments, he has become a symbol of hope for countless others facing similar challenges, igniting a movement that celebrates diversity and empowering young people with disabilities to pursue their passions.
As Gowhar looks towards the future, his sights are set on scaling new heights and conquering new waters. His story exemplifies the indomitable human spirit, reminding us that our struggles do not define us, but shape us into the people we become. Gowhar Ahmad, once at the brink of darkness, now stands as a shining example of resilience and triumph.

“No matter how challenging life seems, there is always a ray of hope that can guide us through the darkest times. I urge everyone, especially youth facing adversity, to embrace their unique abilities. Constantly pursue their dreams, and never let their circumstances define their potential,” says Gowhar while signing off.

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