Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu's Olympic Silver medal is also linked with the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir because her coach Vijay Sharma hails from a village of Akhnoor sub-division of Jammu district.
On July 24, Mirabai, a resident of Manipur, has scripted history after she opened the account of India's medal tally with a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Mirabai Chanu bagged the silver medal in the Women's 49 kg category.
Mirabai's coach hails from Jammu
Son of the soil, the weightlifting coach, Vijay Sharma has been showered all praises and bouquets along with Mirabai Chanu for their rare achievement that made the nation proud.
Coaches are the masters of the success of every athlete. They put their best to realize the dreams of their trainees. They are the ones who tread the path ahead of the player. They make it easy for players where they have faced hardships. In a way, the success of each athlete comes through their coaches.
Such is the story of Vijay Sharma, son of the soil, who is the national coach of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) and recently made the entire nation proud when one of his trainees, Mirabai Chanu won Silver Medal for India in Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Mira's coach makes J&K proud
Having roots in Jammu and Kashmir, Vijay Sharma originally hails from Sohal Tanda village of Akhnoor in Jammu district and is the son of an Army man who had joined the force at the age of 16. After his father retired from Army in 1968-69, they moved to Modinagar, Delhi and there his father started working for a private transport company 'Krishna Transport' as a driver.
Vijay has been away from J&K since childhood but his love for the hometown has never diminished. "Though I live outside J&K, my love for my place has not diminished, and I visit my village every year with my family so that I remain attached with my roots", Sharma said.
Dronacharya Awardee, Vijay Sharma, born in 1970, was interested in sports from his schooling days and was competing in football, athletics, and other sports on regular basis.
"I was average in studies during my school days and was very much attracted to sports. Seeing this, my father supported me and motivated me to take up sports with studies also", Vijay Sharma said.
Started weightlifting during his college days to get a job
During his college days, Vijay's interest in sports amplified as he came to know that by excelling in sports, one gets good employment opportunities in the government sector. "In the year 1989 while at college, I took to weightlifting to get job opportunity and in 1992 I won a gold medal in All India Inter-university and bronze medal in senior National Championships in weightlifting," Sharma recalled.
Sharma's aim turned into reality in 1993 when Indian Railways offered him a good job based on his performance in national championships of weightlifting.
IWLF called Sharma to train the national team in the year 2012
Vijay's career took a turn when he was called by the IWLF for a National Camp in 2011 and since then there has been no stopping for the Dronacharya Awardee Sharma. "After a call from IWLF, my career took a turn and since 2012, I am a regular national coach of IWLF which was a proud moment for me, my family, and the entire Jammu and Kashmir," Sharma said.
"During 2014 Commonwealth games our team won maximum medals, in 2016 Rio Olympics our player finished 10th, in 2018 Commonwealth our medal tally increased and in 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Mirabai Chanu made our country proud by winning a silver medal," Vijay Sharma said.
He has been a national coach at IWLF since 2012 and trained players like Poonam Yadav, Satish Shivlingam, Vikas Thakur, and others.
Offers his service to explore potential of J&K youth
Pointing out that Jammu and Kashmir has vast potential in sports, Sharma says that our youth just need a bit of guidance with good training. "J&K has been developing sports infrastructure for the last couple of years but the only infrastructure cannot produce good athletes," he opined, adding, "We need to have a good number of coaches and trainers in J&K so that we can produce world-class athletes."
Sharma said that he is always available for his services to J&K. "I will always help J&K government in drafting any roadmap for developing sports infrastructure and training pattern so that athletes of international standard are produced here," Sharma assured.
In his message to youth and aspiring athletes of J&K, Vijay Sharma says that they should follow their dreams and aspirations and should take sports as a career.