Skier Himanshu Thakur seeks funds to qualify for Winter OlympicsDecember 27, 2017
CHANDIGARH: Himanshu Thakur, India’s best skier, is trying to make the cut for the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on a hope. The 23-year-old from Manali is seeking funds to compete in the qualification tournaments for the Olympics.
Himanshu’s father, Roshan Thakur, who is also the secretary-general of the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI) and a former national-level skier, said, “There has been no support from the state or Union government. I sponsor him (Himanshu) with my own personal savings. The Himachal government promised Himanshu Rs 1 lakh for participating in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, but we haven’t got that amount yet,” added 50-year-old Roshan.
A professional skier requires skis, boots and bindings, poles, helmets, ski suits, ski goggles and skiing gloves as equipment to compete in the sport. Only the equipment costs around Rs 5-10 lakh.
“The babus in the sports ministry do not recognise winter sports. They don’t acknowledge skiing as a sport. But, still I am hopeful of representing the country at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea,” said Himanshu.
India doesn’t have a single track for professional skiers. There is one in Gulmarg, Kashmir, but that is a popular skiing destination for amateurs not for athletes who pursue professional skiing.
Therefore, Himanshu has to practise in Austria. “A lot of money goes in funding those trips. The international skiing body (Federation Internationale de Ski) funds his trips, at times. But, they can’t come to our rescue every time,” said Himanshu’s father.
There are other expenses like training fee, track fee, gym, physiotherapy, travel expenses, boarding and lodging too.
Thakur Sr is also miffed that the Central government doesn’t have a policy that encourages winter sports like skiing, skating, snowboarding or luge in the country. “I think my son competes in a sport that doesn’t really raise medal hopes. But, if the government doesn’t come to the aid of such sports, then several other Himanshus will feel discouraged and never take up these kind of distinctive disciplines,” he added.
Roshan was a coach in a government mountaineering institute in Manali and inspired his son to take up skiing. “Being a coach, I spotted the innate talent in him,” said Thakur. “I am optimistic that Himanshu would at least figure in the Top 10 in the Winter Olympics, if he gets good coaching,” he added.