Afreen Hyder, an international Taekwondo player from Kashmir, wants to represent India in Olympics. She is the first international Taekwondo player, who has been shining in Kashmir Valley for the past few years.
Hyder has returned to India after giving a good performance at a Taekwondo Grand Prix event in South Korea. Hyder said that her Taekwondo journey started in school.
“I never thought of pursuing it professionally. I saw children training in Taekwondo in school and thought it was cool. So I decided to train too. I won my first ever medal at the national level in 2010, a gold medal and since then, this sport has been my passion,” Hyder told ANI.
In 2014, Hyder shifted from Srinagar to Jammu. She had completed her schooling at Delhi Public School (DPS) in Srinagar and started pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Delhi. In 11th grade, she had to make a choice between her two passions: engineering or sports while studying non-medical science. Hyder eventually realised that academics was not really for her and decided to turn into a full-time athlete. Hyder also expressed gratitude to her coach Atul Pangotra. “In Jammu, Atul sir taught me a lot. Later, I got my training for a year in one of the best academies in Bhopal. Currently, I am training in Gurugram, which also has one of the finest academies of India,” she added.
Hyder said that she has participated in numerous international events and currently holds rank 1 in India as a player. “My current world rank is 91, I want to raise it. For it, we have to play in tournaments. I went to Iran and Riyadh for these. Women’s championships were held in November last year in Riyadh. Such tournaments give us a lot of experience and opportunities to win a medal,” she added.
Asked about her current plans, Hyder said that she will be preparing for World Championships and Asian Games. Later, her goal will shift to the 2024 Olympics. Her mother, Shiraz has always supported her passion and is proud of her.
“I have always supported her. I would urge other parents to support their children in whichever field they want to follow. I am happy that my daughter is number one in Taekwondo, I am proud to be her mother,” she added.