The relentless pursuit of Winter Olympic qualification: Why India’s only World Cup speedskater might be forced to retire at 26

“So close, yet so far from paradise

I hold, you in my arms, in paradise

Is mine, then you slip away

Like a child at play, and here am I

So close, yet so far from paradise.”

Day after day, lap after lap, Indian speedskater Stephen Paul has had only one dream – to see the country’s flag hanging from the rafters at the Winter Olympics.

However, not all dreams come true – at least, not this time.

He missed out. He missed out on securing a berth at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The margin by which he missed out? Only a few milliseconds.

The requirement for 500-meter was 35.7 seconds, and that for 1,000-meter was 1:10.5. And Stephen fell short by just 0.2 seconds and 0.02 seconds in 500 and 1000 meters respectively.

The pride

“At the Utah Olympic Oval, there are 32 flags set up and it was a proud moment for me to see the Indian flag flying high amongst them,” Stephen signed off.

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