In a first, Aanchal Thakur, hailing from a small village in Manali, has become the first ever Indian to win an International medal in skiing. The 21-year-old from Himachal Pradesh etched history by winning a bronze medal in Turkey, where she was participating in the Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup. The competition was organised by Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS), the international governing body for skiing.
Aanchal lives in Barua, a small village in Himachal Pradesh' Manali district. Coming from a country with lack of infrastructure and support for winter sports, Aanchal's accomplishment is truly remarkable. "Months of training have finally borne fruit. I started well and managed to take a good lead, which helped later in getting the third-place finish," she told The Times of India.
Anchal's biggest support has been her father, Roshan Thakur, who is also the secretary general of the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI). Roshan has been a mentor to his daughter, and believes her international victory will bring more visibility to India's skiing fraternity. "I saw the prime minister and sports minister had both tweeted and congratulated her. This is a very positive sign and hopefully it will encourage more people to take winter games seriously," he told BBC in an interview.
Aanchal's win was celebrated by people from all across the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter, "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 endeavours."
Earlier in 2012, when Aanchal was only 16, she had represented India at the Winter Youth Olympics organised at Innsbruck, Austria. She hopes to represent India at the upcoming Winter Olympics 2018.
Images - Twitter.