Taekwondo champion Dan Mandzor dreams of winning gold for India

Danish Manzoor, a young taekwondo athlete from Balamura district in Jammu and Kashmir, discovered his interest in taekwondo when he was in school. He signed with the regional association under the direction of coach Ashfaq Ahmad Wani. It only took Coach Varney a few days to discover the Dane’s extraordinary talent, and he outperformed his peers in training sessions. The Dane has impressed his coach so much that he has dedicated time to his training sessions. The Dane will never forget that gesture, “he was so good to me in practice that it was difficult to define whether he was a teacher or a friend,” he said.

The Dane hasn’t looked back since his first taekwondo championship in 2011. That year, in his first national taekwondo competition, the Dane won a bronze medal. Later that year, the North Indian National was held in Srinagar, where the Danes won the gold medal.

In 2013, the Dane proudly called the “Golden Era” and he won a string of gold medals in tournaments including the Kashmir Open, Gulmarg Cup, State Championships and Regional Gold. He also qualified for fourth place in the All India Junior National Taekwondo Championships in Pondicherry, becoming the first Kashmiri ever to achieve this feat.

Originally, the Dane started learning taekwondo for self-defense, but after winning his first national leverage gold medal, he began to see the sport as a profession. In 2017, the Danes represented Jammu and Kashmir at the Asian Indoor Trials held at the Sports Authority of Aurangabad. In 2018, the Dane finally turned pro, joining the Atul International Taekwondo Academy in Jammu under the tutelage of international coach Atul Pangotra. The Dane represented Jammu and Kashmir in the Asian Championships qualifiers and attended the training camp of Britain’s top Olympic coach Paul Green.

In 2019, the G1 Taekwondo Championship was recognized in India, and the Dane was one of the contestants. Although his skills amazed everyone, unfortunately, he retired due to injury in one game. It was heartbreaking for the Dane as he was about to win the fight by a huge margin.

However, the Dane remains optimistic as he sees his growth as an athlete inspiring parents to send their children to different academies to learn taekwondo. Right now, he said, “what is needed most is infrastructure and coaching centres. We need more coaches like Atul Pangotra who can produce results-oriented players.”

After the Covid-19 pandemic hit India, the Danes started practicing at home and competed in the online history event of the Online Broadsword European Taekwondo Championships, organised by World Taekwondo. Denmark is in the top 20 in the world rankings. At the national level at the Tokey Memorial National Taekwondo Championships in Ropar Punjab, he won a silver medal and was declared the best player in the event.

In early 2022, the Danes began training for the G2 Olympic Taekwondo Ranking Championships due to be held in Iran. He is sponsored by Aspire Educational Services Private Limited (AESPL) Mamath Budgam. However, the Dane was heartbroken again when the airline denied him boarding at Delhi airport because he had only had one dose of the vaccine.

The Dane tried to explain that he had recently received a single dose of the vaccine and had a negative RTPCR report, but no one listened. Iran. I was left at the airport. This was the worst experience of my life. I cried like a baby but the rules were so strict I had no choice but to go home. ” he recalled. According to the Dane, he was traumatized for a long time and “after training so hard, it was a nightmare for me. I consoled myself a few months later that it wasn’t my luck. “

Now the Danes are preparing for the upcoming Asian Games trials in Hangzhou, China. He considers his friends to be his greatest strength and has always supported him. “Every time I come back from any championship or training camp, they are as excited as my family. They even share videos of my training on their social media accounts,” he said with a laugh.

The Dane worries that there is no professional kickboxing academy in Kashmir and whenever he has to prepare for any championship, he has to travel to Jammu and elsewhere to train. “On our union territory, we only have coach Atul Pangotra. There are no other qualified taekwondo coaches here,” Denmark said, adding that J&J authorities should focus on elevating the Olympic movement and developing more Olympians. “I am grateful to D. N Pangotra. President of the Johnson Taekwondo Association, he always provided us with a great training camp and supported me all the time,” he said.

But hopefully, inspired by Denmark, parents have come to realize the importance of sport. “They asked me in detail about the sport and how to train their children.”

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