Srinagar: Owais Sarwar of Srinagar has set his sights on international success after making history by being the first Wushu player from Kashmir to win a medal at the National Games.
On behalf of J&K, Owais who hails from the Rambagh area of Srinagar won the bronze medal at the just-completed 36th National Games in Gujarat.
He won a medal for J&K in the Wushu and became the first Kashmiri athlete to do so at the National Games.
Wushu brought home a total of six medals for J&K, including a gold, a silver, and four bronzes.
However, Owais’ medal is unique and has inspired Kashmiri athletes, who now believe they could achieve the same accomplishment.
Even while Kashmiri Wushu competitors have been winning gold at national championships, they have not performed consistently at the same level in the National Games, which are India’s equivalent of the Olympics.
Medal competition at the National Games is extremely competitive because only great athletes compete.
The level of competition is strong, and this is reflected in J&K’s overall medal tally.
Six years after beginning his Wushu martial arts training, Owais competed in his first match in 2017.
In the District Championship, Owais won the gold medal.
He was chosen for the state-level competition where he also won a gold medal.
Owais, despite numerous setbacks, saw it as the beginning of a journey and has since never looked back. In 2017’s 17th Junior Wushu Championship in Tamil Nadu, he won his first bronze medal at the national level.
“From 2017-2022, I have played in five districts and five state championships, bagging gold medals in all. During this period I participated in the 28th and 29th Senior National Wushu Championships held at Jammu and Bhopal. Due to injuries, I couldn’t finish on the podium after losing my semifinal bouts,” Owais said.
He qualified for the National Games despite not winning any medals at the national championship.
It provided the gifted martial artist from Srinagar with the inspiration that he needed.
“Even though my injuries during the national championships were a setback, I remained motivated. The initial step and driving force were chosen for the National Games. I was aware that if I was successful in winning a medal at the games, there will be no looking back,” Owais said. “My first match in the 65-kg division was against a player from Uttar Pradesh who had won numerous national medals. I was able to defeat him, and in the subsequent match, I faced a player from Maharashtra. I was hurt during the fight but managed to recover and I was awarded the bronze medal.”
He said that his target was gold but he is still happy to become the first Wushu player from Kashmir to bag a medal in National Games.
“Injury hampered my chances as I lost against a player from SSB,” he said.
Owais now aims to achieve international success and make J&K proud.
“This medal has given me a lot of confidence and I have set myself a higher goal of achieving success at the international level. That will need better preparations and better training. I am focused on doing that and hopefully will be able to bag a medal at the International level,” he said.
Owais said that without the support of the Wushu Association and the concerned Sports Department, he would not have achieved this success.
“The success wouldn’t have been possible without the support of CEO and Chief Coach of India Kuldeep Handoo who arranged a five-month camp for the athletes. It would also not have been possible without the support of Wushu Association officials and my coaches. My parents also get major credit for this as they kept supporting me despite several setbacks,” he said.
Kuldeep Handoo who is a Dronacharya awardee coach in Wushu termed Owais a talented player who could reach higher levels.
“Owais needs to train better and stay focused. To win a medal in National Games isn’t easy and Owais has done that. It shows that this boy has got a lot of talent,” Kuldeep said.