With the lifting of Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) ban by the the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Sunday, Indian athletes will now be competing under the nation’s tri-colour flag.
However, this meant more than just patriotic symbolism for Alpine skier Himanshu Thakur, who has now been provided skis, boots and poles for his upcoming races.
Hailing from Manali, 20-year-old Thakur was delighted with the news.
“Two days after (the reinstatement of IOA), they gave us money and now I have equipment,” he told reporters during a training session at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort.
“It’s a good experience. It’s motivation for skiing in India.”
Himanshu Thakur and Cross-country skier Nadeem Iqbal are yet to start their campaign as Iqbal has his 15km classic run event on February 14 while Thakur’s Giant Slalom event begins on February 19.
The athletes were previously competing under the Independent Athletes category, but now they will be able to compete as Indian athletes.
“It was a strange feeling that we three had to walk under the IOC flag during the opening ceremony,” Thakur said. “It’s my first Winter Olympics and I was feeling bad that I would compete under IOC banner. But now I am going to take part as an Indian athlete. What more can I ask for, it’s something I had not thought of. It was a surprise.”
“Now I can proudly tell other athletes in the Games Village that I am competing as an Indian athlete. It’s an amazing feeling now that I will carry the name India on my dress and other equipments,” he concluded.