Stephen Paul wants Indian skaters to shine in Winter Olympics

Stephen tied up with Olympics medallists Chad Hedrick and Brittany Bowe for online interactive sessions for the India hopefuls; he had missed the mark in 2018.

 

Stephen Paul of Hyderabad had missed the 2018 Winter Olympics berth by a whisker – 0.02 seconds in 1,000m (clocking 1:11.92 against the qualifying mark of 1:11:90) and by 0.26 seconds in 500m (clocking 36.46 sec against 36.20) events in track speed skating events.

And he happens to be the only Indian to have gone that close in a qualifying event for the Winter Games.

Now, after 18 years of skating which also saw him to be the only Indian to qualify for a World Cup long track skating in 2018, Stephen is now on a mission – to groom those from India dreaming to make it to the next edition in 2022.

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As part of his efforts, Stephen tied up with Olympics medallists Chad Hedrick and Brittany Bowe, who is the fastest female skater in the world, to conduct online interactive sessions for the India hopefuls this week.

The first session caught the attention of 1,300 Indian skaters. The Olympians gave a fair idea of what it means to be there and also some sort of inspiration.

“My target is simple. Seen an Indian there in Winter Games, a feat which I dared to dream but failed to realise,” says Stephen.

“National champion Akash Aradhya of Karnataka, who is rated to be the strongest contender for a slot in the next Games, was among those who attended the session,” says Stephen.

“And, he was pretty impressed with the interaction and hopes to be a much better skater,” he added.

For someone who has himself trained for six years at Salt Lake City in US with the ambition of making it to the Winter Olympics, Stephen called it quits to address some personal issues back home.

“There is abundance of talent but needs proper guidance and exposure in chasing the goal. That’s why I am trying to involve Olympic medallists which was never attempted before for Indian skaters,” he adds, even while gently reminding of a girl from Telangana, Nayana, to be the skater to watch out for her natural skills and potential.

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