Aanchal Thakur’s success is a saga of determination and single minded focus. The 21-year-old who became the first ever Indian to win a medal in the Alpine Ejder Cup, earlier this week, she showed that it takes guts and gumption to achieve success at the international level.
Aanchal’s determination can be gauged from the fact that a couple of days before her main competition she cut her hand and bled profusely. “I accidently cut my left hand and a lot of blood flowed. At first, I was thinking about pulling out of the meet, but decided not to do after consulting my coach and parents,” she said.
What’s interesting about Aachal’s bronze medal winning feat is that she was not in the elite sportspersons Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). If an athlete comes under the TOPS scheme, then he or she is assured of quite a substantial amount of funding. In Aanchal’s case, she didn’t have any funding as she wasn’t under TOPS. To make matters worse, skiing being a very expensive sport, and she had to manage her own finances.
Coming back to the Alpine Ejder Cup, Aanchal was off to a very poor start as she got knocked out in the first round on Monday. “I was very disappointed when I fared very poorly in the first round on Monday. I was knocked out and to win a medal I had to play out of my skin. I was very determined to perform well.
Her struggles didn’t end there as she once again did poorly in the second round. But once again she refused to be cowed down and she came up with her best showing in the third and final round.
Speaking on her win, Aanchal said,” “It was an extremely difficult race, I just wanted to complete the course but was absolutely delighted and surprised to see that I had won the medal. I am glad that I became the first Indian to win a medal in an international skiing tournament. This win has made me quite determined and I am aiming for an Winter Olympic Games qualification now,” she added.
Her Winter Olympic qualification is a also an uphill task. In order to make the grade she has to score below 140 points. Despite winning the bronze, she failed to score tbelow 140 and has got to get this mark in order to qualify. She will return to India shortly and then embark on another journey to Iceland where she will be hoping to get the below 140 mark. “I just have one more tournament (the one in Iceland) in which I have to qualify. The last date of Winter Olympic qualification is Jan 21 and I have to score less than 140 in my five races. I am gong to give all that I have in Iceland,” she said.
Aanchal’s connect with skiing has something to do with her family background. Her father (Roshan) was a national level champion who taught her the basics of the sport. She started taking skiing seriously when she was 11 years old. Aanchal’s brother Himanshu is a alpine skier who also competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics. In fact, Himanshu and Aanchal practiced together in Italy and Austria before winning the bronze medal in Alpine Cup.