The fact that Pakistan is packed with talented people in almost every discipline cannot be ignored. The nation has created world-class athletes when it comes to sports, who have made a name for themselves across the world. One athlete however, who has built a unique identity for herself is Insha Afsar. She is a female Paralympic skier from Azad Kashmir, Pakistan.
Afsar was one of the thousands of victims of the devastating October 8, 2005 earthquake that shook the northern parts of Pakistan. She lost her leg on a tragic day when her house collapsed.
After six months, Afsar went to the US to get her prosthesis. After she was photographed by TIMES magazine, she gained the attention of one of its editors, who gave her room and sent her to school as well.
Afsar’s friends proposed to go skiing with them, and she accepted the offer. Today, Asfar is one of Pakistan’s best skiers.
At the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea, Afsar was the only person representing Pakistan. Insha participated in the 2015 US Paralympic Alpine National Championship with more than 40 competitors.
Insha Afsar’s initial struggle to pursue skiing
The fact that their daughter was going to become a sportswoman was not easy to digest for Afsar’s family. They did however, endorse her decision as a professional to try skiing.
Afsar said during an interview, “I come from a place where becoming an athlete is not usual for a woman. Coming to the US and then pursuing a sport that I love, might encourage people to come forward, despite what’s holding them back and do what they want to do.”
As part of the Diana Golden scholarship programme for Disabled Sports US, Afsar attended The Hartford Ski Spectacular in 2013.
While she had been on a ski slope before, to help her hone her talents, she spent the week working with Paralympic coaches and high-level adaptive athletes. It was Afsar’s first experience skiing with other competitors who were adaptive.
The experience helped Afsar develop her abilities and better understand how to three-track ski. She brought that knowledge back to her school coaches where, as a part of their non-adaptive programme, Afsar trains daily.
An inspiration for Pakistani athletes
For disabled athletes, Afsar is not merely an inspiration. For those who are finding some kind of inspiration, she is also a role model. Afsar hopes that others will be inspired by her love for the sport.
The success by Afsar gives the world a vivid message that nothing is impossible. You can do something with your strong conviction and will power. It’s about how honest and genuine you are towards yourself and your goals. It’s the wild enthusiasm that gets things rolling.