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Aanchal hopes ski medal ends govt apathy for winter sports

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Thakur has just one wish after becoming the first Indian to win an international medal in -- an end to the government's apathetic attitude towards winter

The response to her bronze medal winning performance in has been overwhelming to say the least. She still can't believe that none other than Modi congratulated her on the achievement in a sport that usually begs for attention.

"I never thought the would tweet for me. It is unreal. I just hope we are finally treated at par with athletes of popular As of now, there has been no support whatsoever from the government," told PTI from where she secured the bronze in Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup organised by the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS).

"I just want to say that we too are fighting, working hard day in and day our for India," she said.

runs in her blood but it has not been an easy ride thus far for the the 21-year-old, who is a student of College in Chandigarh.

Her father Roshan Thakur, who happens to be the at Federation of India, always loved and therefore it was natural for his children, and Himanshu, to pick up the sport at an early age.

While Aanchal has grabbed attention now, brother Himanshu, also an alpine skier, competed in the Sochi Winter alongside luger

Aanchal says if it was not for the efforts of her father, there was no way she could have pursued skiing.

"I have been skiing in since I was in seventh grade. Papa always wanted me to ski and he has been spending out of his pocket all this while. Without any help, you can imagine how much he has spent on me and my brother.

"What makes it more challenging for us is that it doesn't snow in for the major part of the year, so we have to go out and train," she says.

Her father Roshan adds that existing skiing venues in India, at Gulmarg and Auli, are the only world-class during competitions and are not looked after well otherwise.

"The Europeans get to train 10 months in a year where our athletes can do two months at the max, considering the huge cost involved in training overseas," says Roshan, who owns apple orchards in Manali.

The equipment, comprising ski, boots and clothing too is expensive and costs around Rs 4-5 lakh, says Aanchal.

With a historic medal in the bag, the next target for this is the qualification mark for the to be held in Pyeongchang, next month.

While her brother is closer to the qualification mark, making cut seems unlikely for Aanchal.

"To qualify, we need to score less than 140 points in five races and I have not been able to that even in one race. Yesterday was a very challenging course and even the gold winner could not qualify for with her scored being more than 140."

With the cut-off date being January 21, Aanchal is racing against time.

"My brother is in for an event so I am going to go there as well. Then there is a race in and I have to see if I can get the visa for that. So, the this looks unlikely for me but I have already set my sight on 2022.

"We need to start preparing for that now and hopefully we will get the much needed support," says Aanchal.

The fact that Winter Games Federation of is not recognised by the Ministry also doesn't help their case.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, January 10 2018. 14:40 IST