Arif Khan swiftly race downhill on the artificial slopes of Ski Dubai, and he made it look so easy. This made him become the first and only Indian athlete to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which is set to begin in February, and several online casinos will be building games based on it.
It was a hard climb for the 31-year-old skier to get to where he is right now.
Speaking to BBC, Khan, who hails from Gulmarg in Indian-administered Kashmir, said: “It’s exciting to be the first Indian to have qualified for the Beijing Games. It’s a big boost for winter sports in the country and for the youth in Kashmir. I remember the last time how difficult it was chasing the 2018 qualification when there was hardly any support for training and racing events.”
Although India has been able to move from being a one-sport nation after winning seven medals at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, their winter sports continue to weaken at a significant rate.
India has never taken home a single medal at the Winter Olympics, and she has never had more than four athletes representing her at a single edition of the Games. The report has it that the Indian government dropped winter sports from its priority list since 1998 and hasn’t reinstated it till today.
Ski and Snowboard India gained recognition from International Ski Federation (FIS) in just 2020.
Khan’s father Yaseen Khan was also a skier and he has been a ski guide since 1980 and taught his son how to ski. His son quickly discovered his love for the sport and he was good at it and appeared in junior national competitions at the age of 12.
Skiing is a sport that was still developing in the country, despite it being located in the lap of the Himalayas with access to natural slopes. With little financial support, the Khan family relied on tourism and ski equipment to keep the dream of Arif Khan alive.
“It was actually 2005 when I started winning at the national events. By 2008 I was skiing faster than other Indian athletes and that’s when I decided I could think of going for the Olympics,” continued Khan.
“I had never thought it would be difficult to receive the support to continue as a professional sportsman for the country, but my family never stepped back in terms of providing me financial help.”
When he tried to make the list for the 2018 Winter Games, the 31-year-old skier had to rely on crowd-funding. He was able to compete at four of the five qualifying games but failed to race the last one due to a lack of funds.
However, that is the past now, as he had been able to secure a sponsorship deal this year, and he is now training at an international academy in Austria. With some of his financial troubles behind him, Khan will be able to place his focus on qualifying for the Olympics.
The skier should have gotten married back in September, but he ended up postponing the wedding to prepare for Beijing, where casino Australia can still be accessed.
Khan arrived in Dubai for a shot with no major international tournaments under his belt. At the Entry League FIS event held last week, the Indian skier ended ninth in the first race, 11th in the second and third, and 10 in the fourth race to claim a spot for India in Alpine Skiing. With this, we can only imagine the future waiting for the 31-year-old in Beijing.