Arif Khan wins Special Recognition Award at Sportstar Aces 2022

At 31, Arif became the first Indian athlete to win direct quota spots for two different events at a Winter Olympics, when he secured a spot in the men's giant slalom on December 29 in an International Ski Federation (FIS) event in Montegro.

Arif Khan

Alpine skier Arif Khan being honoured with the Special Recognition Award at the Sportstar Aces in Mumbai on Saturday by jury member Aparna Popat as Leander Paes watches on.   -  K.R. DEEPAK

Arif Khan won the Special Recognition Award at the 2022 Sportstar Aces Awards at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai on Saturday.

At 31, Arif became the first Indian athlete to win direct quota spots for two different events at a Winter Olympics, when he secured a spot in the men's giant slalom on December 29 in an International Ski Federation (FIS) event in Montegro. This comes a month after he earned a spot in slalom at an FIS event in Dubai.

"I had to really go through a lot of hard work. It is a 20-year-long joiurney. My dream was to represent India at the Winter Olympics," Arif said.

"People always think India is a hot country. But we have the mountains, we have snow, especially the Himalayas, one of the biggest ranges. For this Olympics, it took me four years of continuous training and travel.

To be among the medal contenders at the Winter Olympics, we will have to compete at the level of the Europeans. They have the mountains with the infrastructure. We have mountains and snow but less infrastructure. If we could develop the infrastructure of that level, in 10 years, we will have medal contenders at the Winter Olympics."

 

READ: Arif Khan-led team India leaves for Winter Olympics

China marked Arif’s journey coming full circle in many ways. His competitive skiing career began to take shape in 2005 when he participated in junior level international championships and the first pin on his map was in China, after which he went on to compete in places like Japan and Lebanon.

He decided to go professional in 2008, a decision that coincided with his first trip to Europe.

Legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, former India hockey captain M. M. Somaya, chess great Viswanathan Anand, former India football skipper Bhaichung Bhutia and Olympians Anjali Bhagwat and Aparna Popat are the members of the Sportstar Aces 2022 jury.

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