The writer is Hamirpur based editor in sports magazine ‘Penalty Corner’
Open clear blue sky, snow laden peaks and slopes and big lakes like Govind Sagar and Pong Dam can serve as top class playfields for adventure sports. Bir-Billing in Kangra has proved heaven for paragliders from all across the globe and there are numerous other such spots in Bilaspur, Mandi, Kullu and Chamba that still need to be explored for this sport. As far as water sports is concerned, neighbouring states make use of Govind Sagar lake and Pong Dam to conduct water sports but Himachal has failed to make any progress in this direction. Inititative taken in the city of Lakes Bhopal by sports department has brought them good results in the form of an an excellent training facility. Himachal Pradesh too have recruited many trainers, but the hill state could not succeed to prepare a world class water sports player. However it is a different thing that Neeraj Sharma of Hamirpur showed mettle in boating at Asian games. All thanks to the training he received in Navy.
Equipments like boats used for water sports are costly and other life saving equipments have to be imported from foreign countries. This needs a healthy budget, which state government is failing to provide to players. River rafting, another adventure sport, finds activity in summers only in Bear river around Kullu. Howver this sport has not become popular in other parts of the state. This sport has quite a fascination among tourists and therefore possibilities for this sport should be explored in other rivers of the state too. Besides this, there is a mountaineering institute of Indian government at Manali too. But not much success has been achieved in this sport too after Dikki Dolma. Shiva Keshvan from Manali is a well known name in sports related to snow. He has won gold medal for India in recently concluded Asian Luge Competition. He registered his presence at international forum at Nagano in 1998 as a sole contender from India for winter games.
After that he participated in five olympics consecutively untill 2014. And he will represent India again at Wimnter Olympics in 2018. However the success story of Shiva is nowhere scripted in Himachal. Nor did Himachal played any role in shaping or polishing his talent. Hailing from vashisth village in Manali, this star slider honed the skills of luge while pursuing his education of political science at Florence University in Italy. He climbed big heights of adventure sports arena using equipments of his friends and Italian team. Himachal government should provide financial help to Shiva Keshavan so that he can focus on games instead of looking to find sponsors to participate in 2018 Winter Olympics. Himachal has the potential to give many more Shiva Keshavan to the state and country provided the state government erect the required infrastructure for adventure sports and provide trainers to hone the skills of budding talent. Providing boost to adventure sports will boost tourism too in Himachal.
January 7th, 2017