Insha Afsar

Alpine Skiing


Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment

Further personal information

English, Hindi, Urdu
Higher education
Politics, Religious Studies - Bates College: Lewiston, ME, USA

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up skiing at age nine after moving to the United States of America.
Why this sport?
She was introduced to the sport by a friend. "For me it just clicked. I like skiing and competing because I enjoy winning and being successful."
Club / Team
National Sports Center for the Disabled [NSCD]: Winter Park, CO, USA
Name of coach
Erik Petersen [club], USA

General interest

Sha (, 22 Dec 2018)
Most influential person in career
Coach Erik Petersen. "Erik is the reason I have been able to do this or even know how to do it." (, 21 Sep 2020;, 01 Jan 2018)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Don't be afraid of falling, because you can always get back up." (, 23 Feb 2017)
To compete at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing. Outside of sport, she aspires to become a lawyer and work in Pakistani politics. (, 21 Sep 2020, 29 Dec 2020;, 22 Dec 2018)
In October 2005 her left leg was amputated above the knee after the building she was in collapsed during an earthquake in northern Pakistan. "I don't really remember anything about the earthquake, the only thing I know is what I have been told. The city was extremely damaged. No one knew what happened to the people around them, everything was pure chaos and all my family knew was that I ended up in the hospital with a crushed leg that had to get amputated." (, 28 Mar 2015;, 22 Dec 2018)
Other information
She was introduced to skiing by her friends when she moved to the United States of America, and admits that her participation in the sport can come as a shock to others from Pakistan. "For my family it's kind of shocking because they don't understand what [skiing] is in a way. We don't have skiing in Pakistan so it's hard for them to process the idea. It's not common for women to be athletes [in Pakistan]. Now I'm doing a sport that I love. That might inspire people despite everything that's holding them back." (, 30 Jan 2017)

In 2006 she appeared in a photo in US magazine Time, as part of a feature on refugees in northern Pakistan who were recovering from the 2005 earthquake that caused her impairment. The photograph showed her dressed in an orange jacket and on crutches, in front of collapsed buildings. After the magazine was published a member of the Shriners organisation in Los Angeles, CA, United States of America, contacted Time wanting to help the girl in the photo. She was found in a refugee camp near Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, and thanks to efforts by Time news director Howard Chua-Eoan, the Shriners organisation and Heal the Children Foundation, she was able to travel with her father to the United States of America for medical treatment. After several trips she was sponsored and housed by the Bent family to stay and study in the United States of America. (, 01 Apr 2016;, 23 Sep 2015;, 28 Mar 2015)

In 2020 she studied a preparation programme in foreign affairs at the Washington International Diplomatic Academy in Washington, DC, United States of America. (LinkedIn profile, 20 Mar 2020)