While it’s becoming harder for any ice-skater from subcontinent to compete on a global stage, a boy from Kashmir has not only miraculously appeared as a ray of hope but has also raised the bar high for others to come.
By Romaan Arora
ON a cold February day, a boy in the Parimpora locality of Srinagar is shining his boots for a life-changing marathon.
While the race is usual for others, it’s about a hard-earned reputation for him.
“I’ve been doing this since I was a kid,” says Basharat Ahad Mir while tying his shoelaces. “It’s a passion for me.”
Basharat was only three years old when he won his first race. Since then, he has never stopped.
“I started roller-skating when I was nine,” he recalls. “Then came ice-skating two years later.”
Now 18, the skater claims to be a self-inspired sportsman, yet the motivation for ice-skating came from his desire to represent his homeland in Olympics one day.
Basharat’s sports transition may appear simple, but for him, it was more complex than the Rubik’s cube.
At the age of 12, when most of the kids are busy worrying about their grades and managing their cricket time with that of their tuitions, Basharat was mastering five sports — roller-skating, ice-skating, athletics, skiing, and cycling.
Eventually, he decided to go ahead with cycling – a decision made to regret.
“I gave it four precious years of my life, but fate had a different plan for me,” he recounts.
From 2014 till 2019, Basharat had put all of himself into cycling, a sport he mastered to such an extent that he started believing he shall be the first cyclist from Kashmir to win a medallion at Olympics.
To his misfortune, he had all his dream of being a successful cyclist shattered, after three years of incessant failure.
Even after doing everything impeccable in each of the three trials over three precious years, he was still disqualified, without any explanation.
“I did everything perfectly, yet I wasn’t selected,” he recalls the painful moments of his life. “The first time it happened, I believed I would conquer it in the second trial next year.”
But, he continues, when the same thing happened for three straight years, he made his decision to quit.
For the next few months, the young boy went through depression to such an extent that he attempted suicide thrice in one month.
“It was the worst period of my life,” he said. “I wish no one ever gets to face what I faced.”
With the cloud of failure roaming all over his head and suggestions to take drugs pouring in from some sides, Basharat still remembers how he got the second life out of nowhere.
“One day, while I was countering suicidal thoughts, I got my eyes over my skates lying in a trash box. I took them and went to the field to give a second chance to my already crumbling life.”
And as they say that the result of hard work can be delayed but stopped, so was the case with Basharat.
“I went to Delhi for U-19 Ice Skating selection trials. I had to borrow skates from Gulmarg Ice Skating Authority,” he recalls with a radiant smile over his face.
Wearing skates with rusted blades and giving a trial in the heart of India was full of skull-breaking pressure, that too in the blistering heat of May.
However, the young boy from the mountains not only outclassed hundreds of professionals but redeemed himself in style.
Living up to the expectations, Basharat secured fourth place in the trials and got selected for the Under-19 Ice Skater’s Championship in Belarus, something even he didn’t expect from himself.
The Kashmiri boy was probably the only Ice skater who got selected at the national level without ever hiring a professional coach.
Nevertheless, when he had to go for the championship, he fell short of funds. But, even then, he found his way.
“I got sponsored by the DC Srinagar and my school [Burn Hall School],” he narrates. “I will always remain indebted to them for the trust they placed on me.”
Leading from the front, he played the most pivotal role in Team India’s victory in the junior short track speed skating championship held by International Skating Union in Belarus. A rousing reception on his return as a champion thrilled the youngster.
“After that feat, everyone started recognizing me,” he remembers with amusement. “I started witnessing respect for myself in the eyes of my competitors. I was never happier.”
Soon, however, the boy realized what every sportsperson from his age realizes at one point in time — the mismanagement between sports and study.
“In foreign countries, they don’t burden you if you are sportsmen, but here you have to cope with education at the same time to avoid the uncertainties of unemployment,” he adds.
Even after being a sportsman for all his life, Basharat never left the rope of education behind and is now preparing for NEET. His goal is clear – to become a doctor and help others in countering the drug addiction and depression.
“I know the suffering of failure and the trauma it brings,” the young champion says.
“We’ve seen so many people ending their lives by either suicide or through drugs. I want to help them by giving them a new life — just like Allah gave me when I was on the edge of ending my life.”
Today, Basharat is a rising Youtuber and a talented actor, apart from being a professional sportsperson.
“I’m trying to pursue all of these professions,” he says. “It’s tough, but when God has made you with a combination of flairs, then one shouldn’t waste any opportunity to showcase what he is capable of.”
“Still,” he continues, “qualifying for Winter Olympics 2026 is my biggest objective, and winning it, is my only dream.”
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