Saturday, 21 December 2013

Three skiers and a luge athlete from India qualify for Winter Olympics

Himachal Vacation Travel News
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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