‘Aanchal Thakur’ – India’s 1st International Medal Winner in Skiing
The 21year-old, Aanchal Thakur clinched the bronze in the coveted Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup Federation International Ski Race (FIS) at Turkey in January. 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 getting the third-place finish,” Aanchal told the press from Turkey. Her feat is special given that there is no culture or even infrastructure for winter sports in India. Also, those participating in winter sports in India get negligible support from the Union Sports Ministry.
Roshan Thakur, father of Aanchal and the Secretary General of the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI), was elated. “This is a breakthrough for the sport in India and the entire skiing fraternity is proud of her achievement,” he said.
Although India’s favourite sport is undoubtedly cricket, for Thakur and her family it is skiing that has always come first. Thakur’s father is Secretary General of the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI) and her brother, Himanshu, is the country’s top ranked skier. He has already represented India at an Olympic Winter Games – Sochi 2014 – and is currently competing for Pyeong Chang 2018 qualification. The two have a close relationship and Thakur says that the support of her brother has been crucial to her development.
“There is no rivalry, I must say, because he is always helping me with technique, always supporting me and motivating me,” said Thakur in an interview with the Press. “Now he is so close to the Olympic Games. He was pushing me also. I will make sure that I will be there with him in 2022.”
“This medal will be a turning point for sking and Winter Sports in India. I can see a bright future for skiing in India,” Thakur said. “I think the government will support us and there can be nothing bigger than getting praised by Prime Minister Modi. So I think that everybody is aware of skiing now.
India has had only one female representative at the Winter Games in its history: Neha Ahuja competed in the women’s slalom at Turin 2006. Currently, the WGFI is not even recognised by the nation’s sports ministry, and Thakur has had to rely on funding support from the International Ski Federation (FIS)to train in Austria and Switzerland. However, attention will now turn to Ms. Thakur, India’s reigning national ski champion, to blaze a trail for snow sports. Prime Minister Modi is a winter sports fan and Thakur’s medal could be the trigger for a new wave of popularity.