Born on the slopes of a remote village in Leh, Jamyang Namgial and Tashi Lundup hurtled down the conventional path till the age of 16. That’s when they found skiing.
The duo, having zipped past their original milestone of getting a regular job after school to support their families, have landed a berth on the Indian team for the 2010 Winter Olympics, to be held in Vancouver, Canada from February 12. Representing India in the skiing event, Namgial and Lundup will be the first athletes from Ladakh to compete in the Winter Games.
“I feel proud about wearing the national colours at the highest level,” said Namgial, who will participate in the Giant Slalom event at the quadrennial games. “Moreover, it will motivate youngsters from the Ladakh region to take up the sport as a career.”
After the Standard X exams in 2001, when most of their classmates were enjoying the vacation, Namgial and Lundup attended selection trials for the Ladakh Scouts, a wing of the Indian Army. Having joined the Scouts, Namgial (25), who hails from Saboo, and Lundup (26), from Achinathang, were later selected for the army skiing team. They were sent to High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS), Gulmarg to train for the sport.
“It was at HAWS that we learned skiing from coach Karma Samstan and went on to represent the country,” said Lundup, who made his international debut in cross-country skiing event at the FIS International meet (2005) in Turkey. Later on, he represented the country along with Namgial at the 2007 Winter Asian Games in China.
Lundup and Namgial were promoted from the post of sepoy to hawaldhar on the basis of their skiing achievements. The former, who won his maiden international medal at the FIS event in Iran in 2007, will be the first Indian to compete in the cross-country event at the Olympics.