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Winter Games: Skiing sisters from Punial make history

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: They say blood is thicker than water, but as soon as sisters Amina and Ifrah Wali strap on their skis on the slopes of snowy mountains, they prove themselves to be fierce opponents indeed.

The Wali sisters, who belong to Gilgit-Baltistan’s Punial Valley, brought home a gold and silver medal they won for Pakistan in the recently concluded first South Asian Winter Games. They won after defeating contestants from Sri Lanka, Nepal and India in the giant slalom event in Auli, India.

This is the first time that any Pakistani female athlete has won a medal in the South Asian Games for ski events.

“It is really great to see Pakistan’s flag fluttering high,” said Amina, the eldest daughter of Amjad Wali, a colonel in the army.

The Wali sisters, who are still in their teens, have a rich history of wins in various national level competitions in Pakistan. Both sisters have claimed top spots in more than half a dozen competitions held in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Naltar area and Malam Jabba in Swat since 2005.

Amina and Ifrah, the progeny of the Gushpur family, the former royal family of the Punial Valley district Ghizer, excelled in the art of skiing mainly because they spent most of their childhood growing up in Ratto — a snow-capped area of Astore Valley where their father was posted in the army for nearly 11 years.

Col Amjad told this correspondent that his daughters had entered the competition without enough practice because of insufficient snowfall this winter.

Amina, 17, is a student of 2nd year FSc while Ifrah is doing her matriculation from the Army Public School in Gilgit. “I was 4 when I started skiing,” said Ifrah, who plans to join the army as a software engineer. Amina plans to become a doctor.

After being stuck in Islamabad for 18 days, owing to the suspension of flights because of bad weather, the skiers finally managed to return to Gilgit on Friday.

Source: The Express Tribune

Date:2/20/2011

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