The Indian skating team received a warm welcome following their impressive bronze medal win at the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou. The women’s speed skating 3000 m relay team, comprising Heeral Sadhu, Kartika Jagadeeswaran, and Aarathy Kasturi Raj, secured the bronze medal in the final, marking India’s first medal at the event. They completed the race with a time of 4:34.861 minutes. Chinese Taipei claimed the gold medal with a time of 4:19.447 minutes, while South Korea took the silver with 4:21.146 minutes.
India’s success continued with the men’s speed skating 3000 m relay team also securing the third position in the final. The team members, Aryan Pal, Anand Kumar, Siddhant, and Vikram, achieved a time of 4:10.128 minutes. Chinese Taipei clinched the gold with 4:05.692 minutes, and South Korea secured the silver with 4:05.702 minutes.
The Indian skaters were given a warm welcome upon their return at the New Delhi airport, where they expressed their happiness and pride in their achievements. These victories mark a significant achievement for the Indian skating team at the Asian Games and are a source of pride for the nation.
“I feel very proud. Getting a medal in Asian Games is so hard and we got it. We want to get gold in the Asian Games. Been working for previous ten years for it.” stated Karthika. Kasturi said it was a dream come true for her.
“We have got the outcome of our hard work of years. Maybe we can go up in the next Asian Games to a gold. As a team, we have worked since December last academics and skating, I got the support of my team. Challenges are part of sport. My dad is my biggest support, he came for the Asian Games. My mother looks after my academics. My husband, a cricketer (Indian cricketer Sandeep Warrier), has always encouraged me to skate. He also looked after my diet, and fitness. I would also like to thank Tamil Nadu government and Roller-Skating Federation for their sport,” she stated. Heeral, another member of the team said, “I am 17. Playing and winning a medal at the Asian Games was a dream for me. Though we are all happy, we are sad about missing out on team gold and individual medals. But for our sport, this bronze is above a gold medal. My mom was there at the Asian Games. My coach Rahul sir has had a big role in my game. He was transferred from stadium to school and this affected my training and my mind was shaken. Otherwise, we could have gone much higher.”
The men’s skating team also expressed their happiness at the win. Vikram, a team member said, “We won a bronze medal. It is a big moment for our federation and sport. We have been working for a medal for years. There is a lot of hard work behind every medal. Hoping to win as much medals as possible for India and get skating more recognition.”
Another player, Anand Kumar stated, “I am thrilled to be a part of the Indian bronze medal-winning team. I have been skating since 14 years and the past two years have been dedicated to this event only.” Bronze Medallist Aryan Pal stated, “I feel good because after 2010, we won a medal in skating. Both men’s and women’s teams secured a medal, which is good. The federation kept us together and helped us in training. The team unity and coaching, coach-player bond is important for any team.”
Tulsiram Agarwal, the chief of the Roller-Skating Federation of India said that the performance of the skaters was one to be cherished. “This is a moment to be cherished for years. We had been waiting for it since years. For 12 years, we have been calling an Italian coach for our training. Now we want to qualify for the Paris 2024 or Los Angeles 2028 Olympics” he stated.
The federation chief however, pointed out that after being included in the National Games last year and winning 17 medals, skating has not been included this time. “We urge the government and Prime Minister to look into it. The way PM takes an interest in sports, and motivates players is really unprecedented in our country. We are becoming a sporting country under his leadership. We appeal to be included under ‘priority sports’ so that we get government help, logistical, financial support etc,” he added.
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