Pakistan’s Bakhtawar Khalid Kayani aspires to become the first visually impaired woman para-archer from Pakistan.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Twenty-eight-year-old Bakhtawar Khalid Kayani strongly believes that sport has the power to change one’s lives. For her, it was archery.
Archery just didn’t give her a new direction in her life but a new personality, which she says is much ‘stronger and confident’ since the gradual loss of her vision since 2014.
“Archery gives me hope, positivity and motivation in life,” said Bakhtawar, who took up archery just a year ago and aspires to become the first visually impaired woman para-archer from Pakistan.
Bakhtawar, accompanied by her mother Hina Gul, was at the recently- concluded Dubai 2022 World Archery Para Championships not as a participant but to watch and experience the championships, where her friends – Tanveer Ahmed and Waleed Aziz, also visually impaired archers – were representing Pakistan for the first time in the visually impaired category.
“Coming to the Dubai 2022 Championships was a great learning experience. I learnt about rules, specification of equipment and met the para-archery legends; spoke with the top players like Belgium’s world champion Ruben Vanhollebeke, USA’s Janice Walth and UK’s Roger Rees-Evans etc. Their trainers also guided me in a lot of things.”
Tanveer eventually went on to claim the silver medal at Dubai 2022 and the rookie archer is inspired by her senior fellow player. “This was a real motivation. The Pakistan team was here for the first time so they didn’t have a medal expectation. But Tanveer showed that hard work always pays off. Now I feel, if he can win a medal, I can too,” said the tenacious archer, who is getting ready to take part in her first Para Archery National Championships in Pakistan.
Bakhtawar is also aware of the amount of work she would need to do on her skill, physical and mental strength.
“I am already working on building my upper body strength. I am also doing other endurance sports to build my stamina and capacities that an elite sportsman should have.”
Visiting the Pakistan Foundation for Fighting Blindness in Islamabad, a NGO working in the field of medical research and humanitarian services for the visually impaired persons in Pakistan, was also an eye opener for the upcoming archer.
“I saw the blind people’s lives there, how they do their things on their own, their rehabilitation, mobility etc.
Bakhtawar’s first contact with archery happened attending a boot camp at the Rawalpindi Stadium in July 2021.
“Waleed invited me to one of his boot camps and I was very excited to participate in it. It was a great learning experience. It was also when I realized how much sport is important for a visually impaired person.
“Sport gives them hope, to compete, to socialize and be in a community,” said Bakhtawar, who is currently registered with the Pakistan Medical Council.