Karnataka's Thekkada Bhavani Nanjugunda Clinch Gold Hat-Trick In Nordic Skiing

At Khelo India Winter Games 2024 in Gulmarg, Karnataka's Thekkada Bhavani Nanjugunda shines, securing a stunning hattrick of gold medals in Nordic skiing. Her exceptional talent and dedication make her the potential 'Woman of the Games.'

Ishika Thanvi
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Thekkada Bhavani Nanjugunda

Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As the Khelo India Winter Games 2024 unfold in Gulmarg, Karnataka's very own Thekkada Bhavani Nanjugunda shines as the standout performer, clinching a remarkable hattrick of gold medals in Nordic skiing. The Games have witnessed her exceptional talent and hard work, earning her the title of the potential 'Woman of the Games.'


Bhavani's Snowy Beginnings

Bhavani Nanjunda glides over the snow-covered terrain with the grace of a seasoned skier. Hailing from Karnataka, where snow is as rare as water in a desert, Bhavani Nanjugunda's journey into winter sports began during a childhood visit to Kashmir. The enchanting snow sparked her fascination, setting the stage for her remarkable journey.

As she candidly reflects on her success, Bhavani Nanjunda shares, “It’s all about pursuing your passion. A girl from Karnataka winning winter sports in Kashmir is enough to talk about my passion. We have no snow in Karnataka. I have to work harder than those who compete from the Himalayan States.” 

Bhavani's affinity for mountains ignited when she summited Mt. Rudegera in Uttarakhand as a National Cadet Corps member in 2014. Undeterred by the harsh conditions, she embarked on a freezing winter course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, in 2015, successfully summiting Renok peak.

Her pursuit of excellence led her to the Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports (JIM&WS), Pahalgam, Kashmir, in 2019. Here, she earned an international instructor certificate in skiing. In 2020, she furthered her impact by becoming a ski instructor with JIM&WS. The encouragement from the institute's principal and instructors prompted her to participate as a cross-country skier in the Khelo India Winter Games.

Bhavani also acknowledges the crucial support she receives from the High Altitude Warfare School and the Army in Gulmarg, where she undergoes training and gains technical facilities. Accommodated by the Army, she continues her rigorous year-round endurance training at home.


Journey Towards the 2026 Winter Olympics

Her triumphant victories include first-place finishes in the 10-km Nordic ski competition, the 1.6-km sprint, and the 5-km sprint. Expressing her aspiration to represent India at the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan, Cortina, Italy, Bhavani emphasizes the need for growing awareness about winter sports. She conducts seminars to motivate youngsters to embrace the challenges and opportunities in winter sports.

Historic Achievements & Advocacy for Winter Sports

Bhavani's list of firsts is impressive; she became the first Indian woman to hold an international ski instructor certificate and the first South Indian to represent the country in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2023 in Slovenia. Bhavani stands as a trailblazer, breaking barriers and paving the way for others.

Bhavani emphasizes the importance of government support for winter sports in India and sees the Khelo India Winter Games as a positive step. She believes athletes from Jammu and Kashmir can excel with more awareness, family support, and the breaking of stereotypes.

The winter games in Kashmir have also evolved into a platform for women, even from non-snow states like Karnataka, to dream big in winter sports. From a modest participation of four girls in the inaugural edition in Gulmarg, the number has surged to 20 this year, signifying a growing interest and empowerment in winter sports among women.


Thekkada Bhavani Nanjugunda's journey epitomizes resilience, dedication, and a passion for winter sports, setting a shining example for aspiring athletes across the country. Her achievements speak not only of personal success but also of the potential India holds in the realm of snow sports.

winter sports Khelo India Winter Games 2024 Thekkada Bhavani Nanjugunda 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan