A local girl created history of sorts by running 80 kms along Australian marathon runner Pat Farmer when he concluded his world tour. One of the few female athletes from Kashmir, Insha still waits for a chance to prove herself at a bigger stage, reports Jibran Dar
On a cold winter morning, Insha Wadoo, 22, gets out of her bed, puts on a pair of sneakers, and starts to run. A resident of down-town area in Srinagar, Insha wants to become valley’s first female professional runner.
“I run around 9 kms every morning and on holidays I run around 25 kms,” says Insha.
Despite facing a lot of criticism for choosing sports as a career option, Insha’s moral is high. “I don’t mind people criticising me for being a women and an athlete,” said Insha in a matter of fact manner.
So far Insha has remained undefeated in every race she participated in Kashmir. Not only that, Insha has won every single race at the national level since 2012. “Still I am not allowed to participate in an all-India event, courtesy: official apathy,” said Insha who won her first race in 2011. The event was organised by Shaheen Sports Syndicate, Srinagar. “It was a great moment for me when I won my first race. I still cherish those memories.”
Insha remembers something else as well from her first race: a juicer-mixer-grinder she was given as first prize.
A year later, Insha was a known face in Srinagar for her temperament and talent as an athlete. She won Srinagar Marathon, an annual race organized by Women’s College, and a cycle race. Besides, Insha was awarded ‘The Best Athlete of the Year’ thrice by Kashmir University.
In 2013, Insha won 400 meter state open athletic championship. The event was organized by J&K Amateur Athletic Association. Later that year Insha won 1500 meter race in Jammu.
“After winning the Jammu event I expected a call from state athletic association for an all India level competition,” said Insha. “But that call never came.”
Instead, the association took an athlete whom Insha had beaten thrice. “I am thankful to my family and my coach Khurshid Ahmad for standing with me in good and bad times,” said Insha.
Again, in 2014, Insha defended her title by winning 800 meters race during 12th State Athletic Championship in Jammu. “However, once again I was ignored by the state’s Amateur Athletic Association,” said Insha.
During a trial in Srinagar, a coach with Sports Council told Insha that she is wasting her time ‘as only boys get selected for nationals’. “He told me girl are not capable enough to compete in national level events,” Insha remembers the coach telling her.
However within few days Insha got selected in 400 meter event at the national level. But to her disappointment, Insha was not called for the state championship.
“I called the coach who told me ‘to wait as there is still time for the championship’,” said Insha. “Then one day I read in a newspaper that the said event had already concluded.”
Insha was left heartbroked. She cried the entire day. However, same year, Insha bagged third place in ‘First International Marathon’ held in Srinagar. “The only regret I have is that I couldn’t run either at state or national level even once.”
Insha is proud to participate in an 80 km run with Australian ultra-marathon runner, Pat Farmer.
“I was the only female to run with Pat and cover the distance of over 80 kms from Banihal to Nishat,” said Insha. “He appreciated me and said that you have lot of potential. That was the best compliment I had ever got.”
After graduating in Home Sciences, Insha is now studying BP Ed. from Government College of physical education, Ganderbal. “Rather than helping athletes grow the state is discouraging youngsters,” feels Insha. “All I need is just one chance to prove myself. I am not asking for more.”