Shimla: She is a national-level basketball player, a polyglot and an auditor and she is also a skier. Meet Rashael Kanwal, a 24-year-old, whose introduction happened when she was two and half-years old. Two decades after she first skied in the beautiful snow range of Narkanda in Himachal Pradesh, Kanwal now aspires to represent India at the Winter Olympic 2022 in Beijing.
“I am looking forward to the Olympic Games. I have to play these 2-3 tournaments (to help get qualified). For practice, I am planning to join the academy of Giorgio Rocca (World Cup-winner and ex-Olympian) in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It will be helpful for me in participation at the Winter Olympics,” said Rashael, who idolises Mikaela Shiffrin – the US skier and two-time Olympic gold medallist and two-time World Champion.
When asked how it has been for her to be one of the only Indian women in her sport, she said, “Sports, in our history and culture in India, is protective and conservative towards women. So, I being a woman, faced a few of them (difficulties). But my parents never backed off and were positive. But the sport is equal for women and men. It’s just about the passion and dedication you have towards the sport.”
While there’s some growth in terms of the availability of facilities and equipments for the other non-cricket sports in India, Rashael admits that, growing up, it was some task to gather the equipments required for her sport.
“In India, there is no dealing hand in equipments for skiing. Now, they have opened a few in Manali. But when I was practicing, I had to go abroad and buy and they are really costly there in Europe or in other counties,” said Rashael, discussing difficulties she faced while arranging equipments for her sport.
However, that has not dampened Rashael’s spirit as she makes her ambitions clear, saying, she and her skier sister Mishael want to become Venus and Serena Williams of skiing. Rashael then adds that MS Dhoni is one Indian athlete she looks up to.
“I like MS Dhoni for his sense of humour and temperament,” said Rashael.
Ask her whether she plans to write a book about her journey, considering she likes to pen down short stories and poetry, she jokes, “May be I will write a book, telling my story, when I am in my late 70s.”...