Shimla: Aanchal Thakur from Manali, a 21 year old, etched her name in history books after she won India’s first International Skiing Medal.
Aanchal won bronze in the coveted Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup at the Palandoken Ski Centre in Erzurum in Turkey. The event was organised by the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS), the international governing body for skiing. She won the medal in the slalom race category.
Months of training have finally borne fruit. I started well and managed to take a good lead, which helped later in managing a third-place finish.
Aanchal Kumar to Times Of India
What makes Aanchal’s achievement so special is that there is no culture, or even infrastructure, for winter sports in the country and there is hardly any support from the Union sports ministry.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who follows Aanchal on Twitter, took to the micro-blogging site to congratulate her.
Roshan Thakur, the secretary general of the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI), was a proud father after he got the news of his daughter’s feat.
“This is a breakthrough for the sport in India,” Roshan told TOI. “Aanchal called me on WhatsApp and showed me the medal. Initially, I thought it was a souvenir one gets at the end of every FIS event! But she told me that she won a bronze.”
A professional skier requires skis, boots, bindings, poles, helmets, suits, goggles and gloves to compete. These equipment alone costs around Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh Roshan told TOI that since the bureaucrats in the sports ministry don’t even acknowledge skiing as a sport, there is no monetary support from their side. Thus, Aanchal’s journey in international skiing is either financed by her father or FIS.
“I hope Aanchal’s medal helps our cause and gets us financial support from the Centre,” Roshan told TOI
Roshan wants Aanchal and his son to represent India at the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang County in South Korea.
Aanchal hails from Burua, a small village in Manali. Her father was her first trainer. Later, Heera Lal, a former Olympian, improved her skills.