J&K gymnasts face huge challenges

Jammu: Despite being the most sought-after athletes in the state of Jammu and Kashmir with 13 Sher-i-Kashmir awards and two state awards in their kitty, the gymnasts are struggling hard because of the lack of facilities.

Coaches, Surinder Pal Singh and his wife Krupali Singh, are doing their best to train these sportspersons but the biggest hurdle in their endeavour is the fact that these gymnasts are involved in `Aerobic Gymnastics`, which is not an Olympic discipline.

However, Singh is optimistic that the discipline will be included into the Olympic schedule sooner than later and so are his wards.

"Who doesn`t want to be an Olympian," asks Mayank Jain, whom Singh rates as one of the best talents for the future.

Mayank, though, points that the disciplines of gymnastics that are included in the Olympics demand huge infrastructure, which the state currently lacks.

"It is only off-late that we have begun to get the proper equipment and support from the (sports) council. Particularly Kiran (Wattal) sir (secretary sports council) has supported us a lot," said Mayank, a bronze medallist in the junior category in World Series Aerobic Gymnastic.

Even as the youngsters face huge challenges in absence of proper equipment, they have learned the art of turning adversities into positives.

"We get wooden boards here for the practice, there is not much bounce in them, we have to work hard here to get the desired results, but that helps us increase our stamina," said Tejpal Kaur, the youngest member of the team.

"When we go abroad to participate in any event the conditions there are entirely different, and we get even better results with the kind of effort we are used to put in here, so in that sense it is an advantage for us," she added.