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February 21, 2014

Indian Trades Rollerblades for Ice Skates in Pursuit of Olympic Dream

by Carla Babb

Many athletes dream of going for Olympic gold. But what happens when your sport is not in the Olympic games? For one Indian athlete, the answer was to switch sports and chase his dream thousands of kilometers from home.
 
Indian rollerblading champion Vish Jadeja was heartbroken when inline skating again failed to make the Summer Olympics. But he didn't give up. Instead, he swapped out his rollerblades for blades on ice. 
 
"Long-track ice skating for me, I thought, was close enough to be able to make the switch and then pursue that dream," said Jadeja.
 
Vish also traded the warm weather of Ahmedabad for Europe's frozen winters to pursue his Olympic dream.
 
"India, we don't have that infrastructure back home for anything for winter sports, so you have to move somewhere which it has," he said.
 
He now trains with the Dutch speed-skating power house. Initially those around him were skeptical, but his work ethic and determination has changed that, especially for his coach, Wim Nieuwenhuizin.
 
"I said, you are crazy, but if you are crazy, I can help you. I'd like to help you, because I am [crazy[ too," said Nieuwenhuizin.
 
Vish Jadeja failed to qualify for this year's Winter Games in Sochi, but after only 18 months of professional training, he is hopeful that four more years will prepare him for international success.
 
He is four seconds short of the qualifying time for the 500 meters, and he already has cut 30 seconds from his 5,000 meter time.
 
"We're constantly progressing, so we just need more time to progress, progress, progress and then, you know, you will see what happens," said Jadeja.
 
India has never had an athlete qualify for the Olympics in any of the skating sports, but Vish hopes to be the first, setting his sights on the 2018 games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.


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