A single look at this teen aged girl will confirm the energy with which she has been pursuing her dreams. Meet Palak Kour Bijral, a famous gymnast from Jammu whom you have no idea about. We say famous because this teenager has won awards at local, national and international level.
What you see in this image is a snapshot of Palak’s area of interest as well as expertise – Rythmic Gymnastics. All of 19 years of age, she has traveled far and wide in pursuit of her passion as well as to represent the state of Jammu and Kashmir at the national level and of course to represent India.
Palak studies in Gandhi Nagar College for women in second year of her Bachelor’s degree. She found her roots in gymnastics at the small age of 7 years and as a student in 2nd class when most people that age are only learning to run straight. Palak had initially started going for her gymnastics classes only because her sister used to go for skating at the stadium. This is also where she found her coach, Mr. S.P. Singh. Later she found her main coach in Mr. S.P. Singh’s wife Krupali Patel, who is an Arjun Awardee.
Ms. Kour initially started with artistic gymnastics but seeing her flourishing quickly, her coach shifted her onto rythmic gymnastics. Her father saw the spark waiting to be turned to fire at a young age and in her sixth-standard, Palak was sent to Thailand to train for two months. Palak’s father funded the whole two-month stay in Thailand along with the training fee on his own. There was no support from the J&K government or anyone else at the local level.
Palak has won multiple golds represesnting Jammu and Kashmir, the highest number being three at Jodhpur. She has certificates of participation at the International stage in Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Scotland. Just so you know, Palak was one of the participants in 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
The total tally of Palak’s medals – gold, silver and bronze till date is an impressive 40. Mind you, she is just 19. The most recent win was at the 35th National Games in Kerala where she won two golds and a silver. This win of hers was covered by all local news papers and of course U4UVoice too. Her present goal is to win atleast five-gold medals at the next national games.
Her achievements aside, Palak strongly feels that the government of Jammu and Kashmir is not doing anything for the local talent here. This accusation is not false as about a year ago, U4UVoice had interviewed an Olympian from Doda, Chain Singh, who has barely found any takers from J&K sports ministry or government.
Ms. Kour rues the fact that the government may have provided Maulana Azad Stadium but the stadium is in a shambles. The multi-purpose indoor hall does not even have a proper podium for the gymnasts to practice on. The gymnasts have won so many medals for the state but they have no importance inside the stadium. When players of different games come to practice in the hall, the gymnasts are literally asked to leave the hall.
Palak says that it is all because of her father’s efforts and of course financial support, that she went to Thailand, and has tasted success. There are so many other candidates who are highly talented but do not have the means to shine. The least that the government can do is to provide a podium for the gymnasts at the stadium.