Adventure Sports Need Patronage
Himachal This Week Team
Himachal has a great potential for adventure sports and many Himachalis have proved their mettle in different fields. However families don’t encourage their children to participate in such adventure sports for various reasons. The obvious reason is that these sports are not much rewarding besides facing sponsorship problem and players have to train by generating their own resources. Knowledgeable persons feel that the state government should promote adventure sports, provide patronage and strengthen infrastructural facilities. Manali has emerged as the hub of such activities as numerous sportspersons have represented the country. Himachalis have brought also brought for the country in these sports, including Shiva Keshvan and Anchal Thakur.
Himachal has best sites for paragliding and is hosting international events at Bir-Billing in Kangra district. However, Manali is a great spot also for paragliding. Though this adventure sports is relatively new to the area, the facilities and infrastructure are in developing stage with Solang Nullah being the main centre.
Manali: The Hub Of Adventure Sports
Shiva Keshvan: Pride Of Himachal
Born to an Italian mother and Indian father in 1981 at Vashishth village near Manali, Shiva Keshavan, the country’s only Olympic-level luge rider is marking his sixth time at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea. He has already hinted that this could be his last one also. Kesvan, who had debuted at the 1998 Nagano Olympics in Japan, says he would try to give his best performance of the career. He has won four gold, four silver and two bronze medals in Asia Cup and Asia Championship medals between 2005 and 2016.
Offer from Italy
Keshvan was offered a chance to compete as luge rider for Italy that promised him access to high quality facilities and training in 2002. However Keshvan, whose father runs a restaurant in Manali declined the offer as he was determined to represent India. Shiva Keshvan was also honoured with Arjuna Award in 2012.
The 36-year luge rider has faced financial crunch to carry on his training and buy equipments. However. Union Sports Ministry had sanctioned Rs. 20 lakh to Shiva Keshvan under Target Olympic Podium Scheme for practice and training for winter Olympics.
Youth Icon: Anchal Thakur
Manali’s Anchal Thakur won a bronze medal in the slalom race category at Alpine Ejder 3200 Cup organised by Federation International de Ski in Turkey. It was India’s first international medal in skiing. Her achievement was also acknowledged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur had also announced a cash incentive of Rs. 5 lakh for Anchal Thakur.
‘Govt To Promote Adventure Sports’
Himachal This Week’s Shalini Roy Bhardwaj talked to Himachal Sports Minister Govind Singh Thakur on steps initiated for promotion of adventure sports in Himachal. Following are the excerpts of the interview:
HTW: Why adventure sports have remained neglected here?
GS Thakur: The previous government did not pay attention to adventure sports. Manali has produced many international sportspersons in adventure sports. The government is taking initiatives to provide facilities to adventure sports.
HTW: What steps are being taken to encourage adventure sports?
GS Thakur: The land is being identified to provide facilities at district and state level. The sports schemes would soon be implemented. Efforts are on to get international status for skiing at Solang Nullah.
HTW: Do you contemplate extending financial assistance for training in adventure sports?
GS Thakur: Yes, policies for promoting sports would be included in the budget. Every effort would be directed to promote sports.
HTW: Which areas are being promoted for adventure sports?
GS Thakur : We are exploring new areas for adventure sports. However already identified areas including Solang Nullah would be developed by providing more facilities.
Raid de Himalaya Legend Suresh Rana
Having won Raid de Himalaya Xtreme category for 10 out of 18 times, Suresh Rana of Karjan village in Manali has been crowned as the Raid legend. His life journey in adventure sports has been remarkable and inspirational as Rana has emerged as country’s finest cross-country rally driver from a small town orchardist and motor workshop owner. He has always been passionate for motorsport after watching events on television. He pursued his passion by exploring curves of Kullu-Manali valley in his Maruti Suzuki Gypsy. Impressed by his unique driving style, once Raid de Himalaya official suggested to take part in upcoming rally. Rana participated in Raid de Himalaya event in 2001. After that, there was no looking back for Rana. Considered to be powerhouse of talent, Rana is not only dominating in Raid de Himalaya event but also in other rallies including Desert Storm and others. Rana has bagged more awards than any other rallyist
ABVIMAS: Adventure Sports Training Centre
Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali (ABVIMAS) is the largest adventure sports training centre in the country. It has nine sub centres across state and trained 40,000 people until now.
The peaks in the area provide a challenging playground for expeditions. To organise mountaineering courses the Manali institute is the most ideal location for training in mountaineering in Indian Himalayas as natural rocks are available and glacier is located at 12,000 feet altitude. Notably Dicky Dolma, hailing from Palchan village near Manali was youngest Indian woman to summit Mount Everest at the age of 19 years in 1993. This occurred on the Indo-Nepal Women’s Everest Expedition led by Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to summit Mount Everest in 1984. Dicky was also a skier and attended numerous sporting competitions after taking training from the Manali institute.
The area has immense possibilities for water sports including river rafting. Tourists visiting Kullu valley evince keen interest in river rafting especially during summer season. In addition, regional water sports centre runs courses in specialised activities like swimming, canoeing, rowing, sailing and water skiing in Pong Dam in Kangra district.