News / Asia

    Indian Trades Rollerblades for Ice Skates in Pursuit of Olympic Dream

    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.


    • Victor An of Russia reacts as he crosses the finish line ahead of Wu Dajing of China and Charle Cournoyer of Canada in the men's 500m short track speedskating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace, Feb. 21, 2014.
    • Canada forward Benn Jamie, right, shoots and scores against USA goaltender Jonathan Quick during the second period of a men's semifinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 21, 2014.
    • Women's gold medalist, United States' Mikaela Shiffrin, leaves the podium after the flower ceremony for the women's slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 21, 2014.
    • The team from the United States USA-1, piloted by Steven Holcomb, take a curve during the men's four-man bobsled training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 21, 2014.
    • Austria's Katrin Ofner takes a jump during a women's ski cross seeding run at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 21, 2014.
    • France's Ophelie David, Canada's Kelsey Serwa, Canada's Marielle Thompson and Sweden's Anna Holmlund (L-R) compete during the women's freestyle skiing skicross semi-finals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 21, 2014.
    • Sweden's second Fredrik Lindberg is congratulated as skip Niklas Edin stands after winning their men's bronze medal curling game against China at the Ice Cube Curling Center, Feb. 21, 2014.
    • Laura Fortino of Canada (8) gets an elbow in her mask from Jocelyne Lamoureux of the United States (17) during the third period of the women's gold medal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 20, 2014.
    • Adelina Sotnikova of Russia competes in the women's free skate figure skating finals at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 20, 2014.
    • Li Zijun of China competes in the women's free skate figure skating finals at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 20, 2014.
    • Team Canada players pose with their gold medals during the presentation ceremony after Canada defeated Team USA in overtime in the women's ice hockey final game at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 20, 2014.

    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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