Three skiers and a luge athlete from India qualify for Winter Olympics
MANALI: Three skiers and a luge athlete from India have
qualified for 2014 Winter Olympics scheduled to be held in Sochi in Russia
between February 7 and 23, while fifth skier, a girl, is still struggling in
Turkey to get herself qualified for the Olympics.
Himanshu, Hira Lal and Anchal in Turkey
Four times
Olympian Shiva Keshavan KP from Manali, who has set an Asian speed record at
134.3 km per hour in Asia Cup 2011 at Nagano, Japan in 2011, will be participating
in the Olympics for the fifth time. Hira Lal and Himanshu Thakur, both from
Manali, have qualified for Olympics in alpine category after getting enough
International Ski Federation (FIS) points in Turkey on Thursday, while Nadeem
Iqbal from Indian Army from J&K has also qualified for Olympics and will
represent country in cross country skiing.
Hira Lal has
represented India in 2006 Winter Olympics Turin in Italy. Himanshu has
represented India in Junior World Cup 2012 and 2013. It was announced on
Thursday in Turkey that both Hira Lal and Himanshu have qualified for Olympics,
while, Anchal Thakur, who represented country in 2012 Winter Youth Olympics in
Innsbruck, Austria, is still trying to qualify for the Olympics.
Shiva Keshavan in Manali after setting new Asian Speed Record in luge
“Our young
talents were preparing to qualify for Olympics for last three years. Clearing
qualifying round, where they had to complete 35 races, is not less than bagging
a gold medal,” Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI) general secretary Roshan
Thakur said. It would be sad that the Olympians will not be playing under the
Indian national flag as Indian Olympics Association (IOA) has been suspended by
International Olympics Committee (IOC). “The only hope for our athletes to play
under the national flag is the elections of IOA which should happen before
February 2, 2014. Otherwise they will play under banner of IOC.”
Himanshu, Hira
Lal and Anchal had been getting coaching in Japan, New Zealand and many other
European countries by spending money from their own pocket. Thakur rues that
government was not providing any financial support to the skiers and each of
the above skier had to spend about Rs 10 lakh at their own capacity to get this
achievement. “Government should encourage its bright skiers and winter games athletes by cash prize and should at least reimburse their expense,” Thakur
said.
Keshavan, who won
gold medal at the Asia Cup in Japan in 2012 by setting new Asian track record
at 49.590 seconds, is the brightest hope of the county to bag its first gold in
the Olympics. WGFI vice president Roopu Negi said our skiers are doing great
without having international level infrastructure, and if government supports
them they can definitely bring India the Olympic medals.
Meanwhile, venue
of the National Winter Games February 2014 has been shifted from Manali to
Jammu and Kashmir due to weak infrastructure in Manali. Skiers rue that despite
they are sweating on the ski slopes, Himachal government was not even improving
basic infrastructure of the slopes of the state. Of the total 600 athletes of
the country, 40 per cent are alone from Himachal.

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The Himalayan

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