'Best result of my career': Aanchal Thakur wins first ever silver medal for India
Alpine skier Aanchal Thakur won four silver medals over this week to seal qualification for next year's World Championships. She says she is happy to have taken India one step ahead in winter sports.
'India's snow queen' Aanchal Thakur has been on a historic run of form at the UAE Alpine Slalom Championship (FIS Race) in Dubai over the last week, winning four silver medals and qualifying for next year's World Championships as a result.
Before this, no Indian had won a silver medal or better in the Alpine Skiing discipline in any international tournament.
"This is the best result of my career so far. I broke my own record. India earlier had a bronze medal, but this time I have taken India one step ahead. I will try my hardest to bring a gold medal next time," an elated Aanchal told The Bridge.
"Earlier, I used to perform well in one or two races out of four, but this time I did well in all four. There was a lot of pressure on me this time because I had no official training for seven months from the federation. In the absence of sponsors, I asked my father to send me to Dubai a few days earlier because I did not want to turn up unprepared. Because of these challenges, my aim also became clearer this time. In the limited time I had there, I could sense a lot of technical progression within me," she said.
A 12-member Indian contingent, also including 2021 Winter Olympian Arif Khan (who finished 5th) had been invited to the Entry League FIS event by the UAE Winter Sports Federation on the recommendation of Ski and Snowboard India.
'Want to finish in top 30 this time'
There were FIS points on offer at this event which helped Aanchal also clinch direct qualification for the World Ski Championships slated for February in Méribel, France. With her four silver medals, Aanchal won an impressive 1003.93 points in the four Slalom races.
The 26-year-old Aanchal missed last year's Winter Olympics due to the pandemic-induced lockdown in India, but she has been the flag-bearer for Indian women in winter sports for almost a decade now. In the 2021 World Championships, she had finished 47th in slalom - her best result so far.
"My aim will be to enter the top 30 in the world at the World championships this time. I hope I get to train in Europe - Austria, Italy, Switzerland - for the event because adequate field and slope training is not possible within India. In the bigger picture, my target remains the 2026 Winter Olympics," said Aanchal.
Even before this, Aanchal had the distinction of being the first Indian woman to win two bronze medals in international competitions - in 2021. Earlier in 2018, she won her first bronze medal in an international event of skiing held in Turkey.
Alpine Skiing is one of the most popular winter sports. It involves sliding down a meandering course on snow-covered slopes at speeds of over 150 kph while wearing skis.