What's the story?
Aanchal Thakur from Manali became the first Indian skier recently to win an international medal in skiing. She won the Bronze medal in the Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup at the Palandoken Ski Centre in Turkey.
Her brother, Himanshu Thakur, is also a skilled skier and is eyeing a Winter Olympics berth for 2018 PyeongChang Games. However, his participation in the final qualifier for the games could be in jeopardy due to visa issues.
However, Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore soon came to the aid of the Olympic aspirant,
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Himanshu Thakur needs five races averaging 140 points or below to qualify for the Winter Olympics. He is currently averaging 143 from first four races and needs a strong finish in his final one at Tehran.
Himanshu went to Iceland to participate in one of the Winter Olympics qualifiers. But due to bad weather, that event got called off. Thus, Monday morning's race in Iran becomes a do-or-die affair for him. He also took part in the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, he finished 72nd in the giant slalom race event.
The heart of the matter
Himanshu had applied for an on-arrival visa, but the external affairs ministry had asked him to come to Delhi and then fly off to Iran. He has already boarded a flight to Iran on Sunday, and is set to reach the country in the evening. A detour to Delhi at this moment would mean that Himanshu would be forced to miss the last qualifier, and would lost the chance to make it to the Winter Olympics.
"His visa had already been approved by Iran. They just need an approval from our foreign ministry to let him in. It is just a matter of one phone call to Iran from their side," Roshan Lal Thakur, general secretary at the Winter Games Federation of India, who is also Himanshu's father, said to Sportskeeda. "It makes no sense for him to come to Delhi now, as his race is tomorrow."
His sister Aanchal, who recently became the first Indian to win an international medal in skiing, also requested the Indian Government to look into the matter.
Help seems to have arrived soon after, however, as Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore pledged to help Himanshu in this time of need.
Himanshu is heading to Iran and it is almost impossible for him to come back to Delhi and make it back for the race at this moment. Thus his future lies in the hands of Indian External Affairs Ministry.
Such issues should be looked upon by the Government and sports bodies beforehand as even if Himanshu gets to race on Monday, he won't be in the right frame of mind owing to the current situation and thus his performance might get hampered. However, he should give his best and try to help India make a mark in Winter Olympics.