Vastavam web: Aanchal Thakur has just one wish after becoming the first Indian to win an international medal in skiing — an end to the government’s apathetic attitude towards winter sports.The response to her bronze medal winning performance in Turkey has been overwhelming to say the least. She still can’t believe that none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated her on the achievement in a sport that usually begs for attention.”I just want to say that we too are fighting, working hard day in and day out for India,” she said.
Skiing runs in her blood but it has not been an easy ride thus far for the the 21-year-old, who is a student of DAV College in Chandigarh.Her father Roshan Thakur, who happens to be the secretary at the Winter Games Federation of India, always loved skiing and therefore it was natural for his children, Aanchal and Himanshu, to pick up the sport at an early age.”I have been skiing in Europe since I was in seventh grade. Papa always wanted me to ski and he has been spending out of his pocket all this while. Without any government help, you can imagine how much he has spent on me and my brother.
“What makes it more challenging for us is that it doesn’t snow in India for the major part of the year, so we have to go out and train,” she says.”The Europeans get to train 10 months in a year where our athletes can do two months at the max, considering the huge cost involved in training overseas,” says Roshan, who owns apple orchards in Manali.The equipment, comprising ski, boots and clothing too is expensive and costs around Rs 4-5 lakh, says Aanchal.While her brother Himanshu is closer to the qualification mark, making the Winter Games cut seems unlikely for Aanchal.
“To qualify, we need to score less than 140 points in five races and I have not been able to that even in one race.Yesterday was a very challenging course and even the gold winner could not qualify for Olympics with her score being more than 140.” My brother is in Iceland for an event and I am going to go there as well. Then there is a race in Iran and Pakistan. I have to see if I can get the visa for that. So, the this Winter Games looks unlikely for me but I have already set my sight on 2022.”We need to start preparing for that now and hopefully we will get the much needed government support,” says Aanchal.