Aanchal Thakur, a 21-year-old from Himachal Pradesh, created history on Tuesday when she became the first Indian to win an international medal in skiing. Aanchal clinched bronze at the Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup in Turkey.
The event is organised by the International Ski Federation (FIS) — Skiing's international governing body — at the Palandoken Ski Centre in Erzurum. Aanchal won the medal in the slalom race category.
Aanchal is a resident of Burua, a small village in Manali and is the daughter of Roshan Thakur, the secretary general of the Winter Games Federation of India. She picked up the sport from her father, before working with former Olympian Heera Lal.
“This is a breakthrough for the sport in India and the entire skiing fraternity is proud of her achievement," her father said, according to a News18 report. "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," he added. Aanchal's career in international skiing has largely been financed by her father while the FIS has funded some of her trips abroad. Her father wants the sports ministry to acknowledge skiing as a sport and extend some monetary support for the expensive sport. Just the equipment required by a professional skier costs around Rs 5 to 10 lakh. "I hope Aanchal's medal helps our cause. I want to see my daughter and son represent the country in the 2018 Winter Olympics," Thakur was quoted as saying TOI. "The Centre only funds travel and logistics from one Olympics to another. Rest of the time, you have to fend for yourself." Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Aanchal on Twitter, saying that the entire country was ecstatic on her “historic accomplishment”.
Sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore also complimented the young skier through a tweet, and praised her achievement.