Vishwaraj Jadeja, India’s fastest long distance ice-skater, has qualified for the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup 2021 for long track speed skating.
Ahmedabad-born Vishwaraj Jadeja qualified for the big-ticket event, which will be held in Salt Lake, Utah from December 3 to December 5 this year.
Vishwaraj Jadeja worked his way to the World Cup having participated in 12 pre-qualification events since August 2021. A good performance in Salt Lake will put him in a good situation to get a shot at qualifying for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Since India does not have many facilities for winter sports, Jadeja moved to the Netherlands a decade ago in his quest to find glory in ice speed skating. He has been training under the guidance of Wim Nieuwenhuizen, one of the world’s leading ice skating coaches.
Vishwaraj Jadeja has represented India in over 200 races internationally and has been a regular feature on the European ice skating circuit.
Vishwaraj Jadeja to compete in Mass Start event
Vishwaraj Jadeja will compete in the Mass Start event, which is a shorter version of the marathon in the World Cup. The Mass Start involves 16 laps of a 400-metre long track. Vishwaraj Jadeja said one of his goals is to qualify for the Winter Olympics next year. He said:
“The year 2021 saw the Indian athletes put in a great performance at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. I am inspired by those performances and am trying to make a march towards the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Not many Indians have participated in the winter events and I feel we are at a juncture where we can push towards it."
One of his most significant achievements came during the Winter World Games Masters 2020, where he won four medals – three silver and one bronze. His timing in the 1,500m event was 2:01.00s last year, which he has bettered to 1:57.90s this year.
Jadeja said it would be a dream come true to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
“While I have competed for years and have won medals, it is my dream to make it to the Olympics. Qualification to the World Cup is a major step in that direction. Last year, life came to a standstill due to the pandemic but I continued to stay in the Netherlands and train. This is a reward for my hard work and patience but a bigger one would be qualifying for Beijing."
Subject to visa approvals, Vishwaraj Jadeja is keen to participate in another World Cup, scheduled in Calgary, Canada. The tournament commences a week after the event concludes in Salt Lake, Utah.
With two World Cups scheduled for December, which are all ranking events for the Winter Olympics, Jadeja wants to make a final push to make the qualifying mark.
"It’s always a chicken and egg story. You will receive funding once you qualify for the Olympics. However, you need more help while you are in the process of qualifying. I’m pursuing a sport that has no infrastructure in India, so I need to be aboard most of the time. It gets really expensive, especially during an Olympic year. If we can get a fraction of the financial support that is extended to athletes at the Summer Olympics, I’m confident of good results."