Twenty-one-year-old Aanchal Thakur scripted history on Tuesday, becoming the first Indian to win a medal at an international skiing event after bagging bronze at the Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup, organized by the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Aanchal won in the slalom race at the Palandoken Ski Centre in Turkey. Her father Roshan Thakur, who is the secretary general of Winter Games Federation of India, was extremely pleased with the medal. “This is a breakthrough for the sport in India and the entire skiing fraternity is proud of her achievement,” Roshan was quoted as saying by Doordarshan.
Given that the sport is not that popular in India, it had taken a while for Thakur to come to terms with Aanchal’s achievement. “Aanchal called me on WhatsApp and showed me the medal. I thought it was some kind of a souvenir given at the end of every FIS event! But she told me that she won a bronze,” Roshan was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
He, however, slammed the Centre for not giving the sport its due recognition and stated: “The bureaucrats in the sports ministry do not acknowledge skiing as a sport. I hope Aanchal’s medal helps our cause (in getting financial support from the Centre). I want to see my daughter and son represent the country in the 2018 Winter Olympics,” Thakur added. “The Centre only funds travel and logistics from one Olympics to another. Rest of the time, you have to fend for yourself.”
Even for a beginner, a skier requires boots, poles, ski jacket and pants, goggles, helmet, gloves, base and mid layers (thermals etc.), neck warmer or a scarf and so on. Needless to say, the number of items only increases for a professional and is thus, an extremely costly sport.
To Aanchal, however, these do not matter. “Months of training have finally borne fruit. I started well and managed to take a good lead, which helped later in getting the third-place finish,” she told The Times of India.
Modi hails Aanchal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi complimented Aanchal Thakur, saying that the entire country was ecstatic on her “historic accomplishment”.
“Well done @alleaanchal for winning an international medal in skiing! The entire nation is ecstatic on your historic accomplishment at the FIS International Skiing Competition in Turkey. Wishing you the very best for your future endeavours,” Modi tweeted.
Her achievement earned applauds across social media platforms with sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore congratulating her on her feat.