The people of Kashmir have hardly had a reason to smile in recent times. Faced with curfews, shutdowns and restrictions on public life, the north Indian state has literally come to a standstill. But despite the turmoil, an eight-year-old girl from the state, Tajamul Islam, battled all odds and went on to claim a gold medal at the World Kickboxing Championship in the sub-junior category.
Tajamul, who hails from a rugged village in Bandipora district, pipped her US opponent to the title at the just-concluded event in Italy’s southern coastal city of Andria, becoming the first player from the Valley to achieve such a feat, according to a report in The Hindu.
She was coached by Master Fasil Ali Dar for two years in the backyard of his house. “The girl came to me when she had just passed her upper kindergarten. Earlier, I had spotted Tajamul from a distance. She wasn't yet completely conversant with the rules of the game but she had the speed. I found her instinctively aggressive," Dar toldindiatimes.com.
“We lacked even the basic infrastructure. Yet, she won gold.” a proud Dar told Hindustan Times during another interaction.
Her father, Ghulam Mohammad Lone, is a driver for a construction company and somehow manages to make ends meet. However, there had been no lack of encouragement from him as he had sent Tajamul and her two sisters and two brothers to learn martial arts in Dar's academy.
In an earlier interview to PTI, Tajamul had revealed that her journey started in 2014 when she joined the academy where she trained with young boys and girls in the sport.
“I was walking near the stadium here when I saw many young boys and girls training. I saw them punching and I told my father that I want(ed) to join them and he let me,” Tajamul told the news agency in April.
Earlier this year, she had also won a gold medal in the Jammu and Kashmir Wushu Championships held at Haridwar. But Tajamul made her first mark in kickboxing when she won a gold in the national sub-junior category. The win paved the way for her participation in the world championships.
"Our village is very backward but I, along with other kids like me, are going to take it to new heights," vowed the young achiever. Tajamul's path to fulfilling her dream is going to be full of hardships, but she has already proven she has what it takes to make the impossible, possible.