Shiva Keshavan finishes 34th, retires on a high note; Aims to start Academy in India

By | February 12, 2018

The Indian team at the Winter Olympics including Shiva Keshavan and Jagdish Singh. Photo courtesy Keshavan’s twitter handle.

Shiva Keshavan, the only Indian to have participated in six Olympic games, lifted his luge and waved to a small Indian crowd, which included his family. It was the last high-speed slide the Indian legend completed at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Sunday. He finished 34th. The 36-year old Keshavan managed the best time of 48.9 seconds dead (48.900) for a course of a 1344-metre sliding track at the Alpensia Sliding Centre. The top 20 take part in the finals for a medal. Ranked above 50 in the world, his timing and effort were of a high standard that he set for himself. A one-man army for two decades, he received little support from the government, association or anybody else in the country.

David G of Austria won the gold medal, later, in the Luge Men’s singles event. The other Indian at the Winter Olympic Games is Jagdish Singh, an Army athlete. He will take part in Men’s cross country skiing.

Born in Shimla to a Malayalee father and an Italian mother, Keshavan first took part in the Olympics as a 16-year old, making a record for the youngest in the Winter Olympics Luge history in 1998. As a sports journalist, this writer migrated to Bangalore in 1996 and was unlucky to miss the Athen’s Olympics village duty as a volunteer despite coming out successful in the two-year selection process. But that is a story for another day. It would suffice to say that the interest in Olympics strengthened. And then came the Winter Olympics, two years later in 1998. It was a busy year at the Sports Desk in Indian Express with Commonwealth Games and World Cup football special desks. But nothing much about the Olympics but for a mention, here and there, on a youngster taking part in Luge event.

Thus began his career and Keshavan despite competing in a borrowed Luge for the first ten years continued to face a daunting task as far as sponsorship and coaching are concerned. Recognition and acceptance were a difficult thing, but he continued with single-minded dedication, hard work, perseverance, courage, and discipline to not only overcome a huge amount of hurdles and challenges, only a pioneer can face, but also had to undergo many sacrifices and overcome injuries to become a successful sportsman.

He could not compete with an Indian flag in the 2012 Olympics due to a ban on the country but was permitted to take part as an athlete.

In all, he has taken part in five World Cups and six Winter Olympics.  A maximum of 110 athletes is allowed to compete at the Games. Countries are assigned quotas using the world rankings of results from 1 November 2017 to 31 December 2017.

Keshavan has shown interest in starting an Academy in India.

eom/posted by David Bodapati