When we talk about Indian athletes, the picture of either Virat Kohli, Mahindra Singh Dhoni, Sunil Chhetri or Sardar Singh come to our minds first. The primary reason behind this is nothing but the sports these star players play are viewed by larger mass in India as compared to the less popular ones. Due to which government has also become biased and invest more in those games. It's not like there aren’t any other sports played in India; it’s just the game of profit. Hence when Aanchal won India’s first international medal in skiing, it raised some questions as to why the government hasn’t been funding such aspiring players.
"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."
The journey of the alpine skier
Aanchal Thakur born 28th August 1996, hails from Burua, a small village in Manali. She learned the ropes from her father. Later, Heera Lal, a former Olympian, honed her skills.
Being from a region that’s covered by snow throughout, she eventually developed a keen interest in Winter Sports. Skiing, in particular, fascinated her, as it involves gliding through the snow at high speed. She started visiting skiing centers developed for tourists at an early age of 9. Since the game is not very popular in India, finding the potential sponsors was a big deal. Either Anchal's father or FIS financed her entire journey. Her father also complains about how the Central provides no support.
Her father, who is also the secretary-general of the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI), saw her progressing rapidly with her skills, and thought that it was best to introduce her to some professional coaches. Soon Aanchal began with her professional outing.
She eventually represented India at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics held at Innsbruck and also participated in the Alpine skiing – Girl’s Slalom and also Girl’s Giant Slalom events. Since then, Aanchal’s growth has been exponential even though she did not have many resources.
Winning the medal
"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it”.
Hailing from the small but picturesque hill station of Manali, Anchal Thakur etched her name in history by winning Bronze at the prestigious Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup organized by the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) — skiing's international governing body — at the Palandoken Ski Centre in Erzurum in Turkey and became the first Indian to achieve an international medal in skiing. Aanchal was challenging in the slalom race grouping/category.
Aanchal presented the medal to her father on a video call, which at first, he thought as a memento given at the end of the event as a souvenir! But when told about her bronze medal win, he was overwhelmed with the joy.
The love for the sport runs in the family
Aanchal and her father aren't the only members of the Thakur family with an inclination towards winter sports. Aanchal's brother Himanshu had earlier participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics, securing a rank of 72 in the giant slalom race.
Aanchal’s father wishes to see his daughter and son representing the country at the 2018 Winter Olympics. He also hopes that this win would be enough for Aanchal to get financial support from the Centre.
Narendra Modi too appreciated her win
"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 endeavors," tweeted Modi.
“Self-belief and hard work will always earn you success”.
Aanchal has set an example for all the enthusiastic players who would do anything for the sport they love. We as players should not lose hope just for the reason that capital distribution is not fair. Instead, we should brace ourselves and never stop working hard towards our goals.