India’s only Olympic Alpine skier Himanshu Thakur finished last in the men’s giant slalom on Wednesday and cannot wait for the Sochi Games to end. Not because he is homesick or fed-up with his performance — he just wants to walk with his country’s flag at the closing ceremony after being denied that honour when the torch was lit nearly two weeks ago.
The 20-year-old from the foothills of the Himalayas had to march behind an Olympic flag when the Games began because of a ban on India’s Olympic Association due to the election of a corruption-tainted official as secretary general.
The ban was lifted last week after fresh elections, meaning India’s team of three — who entered the Sochi Games as “independents” — can wear their country’s colours with pride.
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“It was a bad feeling I think at the opening ceremony because I was under the IOC flag,” Thakur said on Wednesday after finishing 72nd — 26 seconds behind his favourite skier, Ted Ligety of the United States.
“It was a bad feeling because I was not representing my country. After February 11 the IOC gave us our country back because of the fresh elections.
“I’m proud to put the flag up (in the athletes village). My parents, teacher and friends were very proud.
“The closing ceremony I will be under my own flag and it will be nice for me.”
Despite being out of his depth on the slope, Thakur did manage to complete two runs, a feat beyond nearly a quarter of the 109 on the start list.
“I was a bit nervous when I came down but it was a good feeling when I finished my run,” he said.