Skier Arif says Beijing Olympic is dream come true

Rizwan Shafi Wani/Srinagar

Ever since the news about Arif Muhammad Khan being selected for the Beijing Winter Olympics came on Saturday, his parents living in the picturesque town of Tangmarg in north Kashmir have been busy receiving guests who are expressing their happiness and congratulating them on their son’s success. As such his father Yasin Mohammad Khan has been continuously answering calls on his mobile.

On that day, Arif was away in Dubai – on his way to Europe – for participation in an international event.

Awaz-the voice spoke with Arif on the phone while he was in transit from Dubai to Italy. A visibly overjoyed Arif said, “Skiing is my passion; my life, my strength, and the ultimate goal of my life. My goal is to raise the Indian flag at an event that the whole world sees; My dream was to represent India in the Olympics, and I have come close to it. I am determined to make my country and Kashmir proud.”

He said hard work and dedication have helped him and so, have the prayers and support of his family.

Arif is the only Indian athlete to qualify for the Beijing Winter Olympics that is scheduled to be held Fron January 4 to 20,2022..

He recalled his journey as a skiier that began when he was 4-year-old. He has been representing India since 2005. So far, he has participated in 125 international events, including the South Asian Games, the Asian Games, and the World Ski Championship.

At Beijing Olympics, Arif said, “I am very excited that I have qualified for an event that will be watched by the whole world. At the same time, it boosts one’s confidence to win a medal for the country.”

His father Yasin Ahmad Khan is also a skier and his mentor. “He used to take me to Gulmarg when I was very young. When I was 7-year-old, I was enrolled in a skiing course.”

Sports is not easy to pursue. Arif too faced difficulties in the beginning, “I never gave up. My family especially my father always supported me. Without his support, I would have not been able to make it to this level. We, as a family, had to face a lot of financial problems to make me pursue the sport.”

Arif’s first medal came in a state championship held in Tangmarg in 2005. Based on his performance, he was selected for the 14th Junior Alpine Skiing Championships in China.

“Skiing took me out of a small area into a bigger world,” he says.  “This (Skiing) means a lot to me; Like my arms and legs, skiing gives me strength.”

He hopes Kashmir will one day become the center of global winter sports, especially skiing that, he says, is a globally-loved sport.

In Kashmir, we have great slopes for skiing and mountains.  Kashmir can be used for the best skiing in India and the world.

Arif Khan’s father Yasin Ahmad Khan told Awaz-the Voice that his son’s qualifying for Beijing Olympics has brought joy and happiness to Kashmir Valley and the entire country.

“All my friends across the country are overjoyed and have been congratulating me on the phone,” he said.

He says as a father he has tried to arrange everything that his son needed. “It’s a profession that costs money and takes a lot of time. Sporting goods are very expensive. We faced financial difficulties but we never let Arif feel about it.”

Arif had always wanted to become a professional skier and I was always there to support him in fulfilling his dream.

“I’ve been a ski guide and a trainer,” he says. I also dreamed of representing the country at the international level, but for various reasons, I was unable to do so.

He was keen to see his children do well. Arif has a younger brother who is also a national champion.

Yasin Khan said that there is no shortage of talent in Kashmir. The youth here can prove their mettle in any field.

But there is a lot of talent in the youth, but due to lack of infrastructure, the youth here are not able to move forward. The administration should take further steps to improve the infrastructure.

This year’s National Winter Games were inaugurated online by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his address, Modi said Kashmir will soon become an international winter sports venue.

Arif’s selection for the Beijing games has sent cheers across the town with friends, family, and even strangers wishing and congratulating the family.

Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha praised Arif and wished him well in the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022.

He wrote in a tweet, “Congratulations to skier Arif Khan for making it to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. This is a proud moment for the whole country. I wish them well.

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Vice President of the National Conference Omar Abdullah tweeted congratulations and wrote ‘Congratulations Arif. Excellent, you qualified for Beijing 2022. We all stand with you.”

Arif had participate in international skiing events in the South Asian Games, the Asian Games and the World Ski Championships. Arif has represented India in many countries including USA, Japan, Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Lebanon, Austria and has set 11 international records.

Source: Awaz The Voice

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