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The best is always the worst tested, this statement holds a lot of meaning especially when we talk about athletes in India. There is immense talent in every nook and corner, but most often than not, it gets suppressed by one thing or the other. One such example of 'fighting against all odds' is our champion player and 2018 Asian Games Kurash artist Danish Sharma, who hails from the beautiful land of shrines and pilgrims, Jammu, from the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Humility and gratitude are two qualities that define this hard working player the best. Danish, who considers his father as his biggest role model, swears to live his life only to make him proud. He might have come a long way from where he started off, but Danish has surely not forgotten his roots as he remembers the days and nights when along with his father, he struggled to make ends meet.
Fistosports in this exclusive chat with the Kurash Master, Danish Sharma, takes you through a journey of a sportsperson who is surely a trailblazer to watch out for in the near future!
How did you take up Kurash as a sport? Tell us about your early days into the sport.
I started playing Kurash in the year 2010. I played my first National Championship then in Jammu which was followed by the World Championship in Uzbekistan. It was my first big exposure as a Kurash player. From there on, I played many more National and International competitions. My biggest achievement till date is playing the Asian Games in Indonesia last year where I stood 5th.
While there is a lot of talent and passion in J&K, there is little scope for sportspersons to grow. What change would you like to bring in the state if you had the power to?
I would like to firstly introduce a sports policy which would work in favor of players. There should be job security given for national and international level players and champions. Even today, after having such great talent, players still find themselves struggling to make a living out of their passion.
Is Kurash as a profession good enough? Or just like other sports in India, the financial benefit is low?
Till date, I have got close to no financial support from anyone. Most of the players I know, including myself, have paid from their own pockets to play at big events. So, Kurash is just like other sports which is suppressed by cricket and football, more so in Jammu and Kashmir.
Are the organizations and associations helpful when needed? Also when you were struggling, how did you manage to make it big in Kurash?
The associations weren't very supportive. My family and friends helped me when I needed to go forward. Also, in Jammu and Kashmir, I have heard that players show fake international tournaments certificates in order to go further. I haven't got any reward yet for my performance in the Asian Games despite of having stood 5th overall, and being the only one representing the country in Kurash from J&K.
Any other sport that you follow?
Yes, I like and follow Judo along with Basketball and Volleyball. These are some of my favorite sports. I, in fact, started my sporting career with Judo and later shifted to Kurash. I am an international Judo player along with being a Kurash artist.
If not an athlete, what would you have been in life?
Had I not been an athlete I would definitely have been an Army Officer or Air Force Officer. Also, I was a bright student in school, but due to financial crisis I couldn't pursue a career in engineering. So yeah, I would have been either of the two officers if not an athlete.
Who has been your inspiration in life?
My father is my biggest inspiration, he has struggled a lot for us and continues to do so. My father is a cancer patient and all I want to be today is only for him. I want to be my best version to support him and make him feel proud every day. He is the strongest person I have known in my life.
One memorable moment from Kurash competitions or any special moment related to the sport?
Every moment is special, but I was the most happy when I got selected to represent India at the Asian Games in 2018 followed by the time when I won my first medal at Senior National Championship.