Life is a Bout

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It was a chance encounter with athletes from his village that introduced this future Taekwondo champion to the world of sports. Almost two decades later he has won a number of medals for his state. Zubair Sofi tells his story

Mohammad Saud Bhat, then 18, clinched bronze medal in Taekwondo during 5th Commonwealth Kyorugi Taekwondo Championship (2011) held in Chennai.

Saud, now 24, a resident of Kaskoot, a village of Banihal district of Jammu division, recalls his first tryst with Taekwondo. In 1996, while walking with his father Mohammad Anwar Bhat, 55, near a park, he saw a few boys practicing. “My father got fascinated by what they were doing,” recalls Saud. “Without giving a second thought, he walked me straight towards them and said, ‘please teach him as well’.”

This was the start of Saud’s sports journey. “I was just a kid then,” said Saud.

A few years later, Saud, whose family owned a house in Srinagar too, got him admitted at Tyndale Biscoe. “I joined Taekwondo classes in the school as well just to stay fit.”

Without knowing much about Taekwondo, Saud took the plunge into the world of sports. The same year (2001), Saud participated in Sub-Junior National Champion of Kick Boxing at Vishakapatnam and won a gold medal.

Next year, Saud again participated in Sub-junior National Kickboxing Championship held in Kanyakumari. This time too he won a gold medal.

In 2003, Saud participated in third such event in West Bengal, where he again won a gold medal.

Then in 2006, Saud participated in a National level Championship in Goa. “I couldn’t even any medal this time,” said Saud. “I was very disappointed with my performance.”

Without losing heart, same year, Saud participated in another National level Championship in Goa, and won a gold medal.

In 2007, Saud was invited to go trials to participate in Open International Championship to be held in Malaysia.

“After the selection I started practicing and devoted my time to maintain my weight,” said Saud. “Without a drop I won six bouts back to back and clinched gold.”

In 2008, Saud represented Jammu and Kashmir in 5th National Open Taekwondo Championship held at Bangalore. “I won a silver medal in junior light middle weight category.”

Same year, Saud bagged a gold medal in 28th National Junior Taekwondo Championship in Pondicherry.  “I trained myself in a way that my studies aren’t affected,” said Saud, who used to visit Indoor Stadium for training after school.

Known among other athletes as the ‘golden boy’ for his achievements, Saud earned a First Dan certificate in Taekwondo from Korea in 2009.

In 2010, Saud represented J&K in the 30th National Junior Taekwondo Championship held in Jaipur, Rajasthan. “I won a gold medal in the event by knocking out my opponent,” recalls Saud.

The same year Saud received Sheri-e-Kashmir State Award for outstanding performance in sports.

In 2011, Saud travelled to Bengaluru where he participated in 2nd National Inter-Zonal Taekwondo Championship and bagged a gold medal.

In 2013, he represented J&K in 32nd National Senior Taekwondo Championship at Manipur. “I am a state champion in my weight category since last ten years,” said Saud.

A BA LLB student at Kashmir University, Saud is planning to pursue masters in England. “I will continue Taekwondo there as well.”

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