Almost 17 years after making his first appearance in the Winter Olympics in 1998, Shiva Keshavan, India's most successful luge pilot, continues to be the country's biggest hope at Sochi.
From as early as 1998, the Manali-born Shiva Keshavan has been India's hope and representative in Luge in Winter Games. Making his debut in the Olympic Games at Negano, Japan as a 16-year-old, Keshavan has the distinction of being the first Indian and the youngest-ever to take part in luge in Winter Olympics. (Disgrace for India to participate with flag at Sochi: Ex-Olympians)
Story first published on: Friday, 07 February 2014 14:05
Keshavan, whose mother is Italian, was once offered to represent Italy in the sport but chose to stick by the country he was born. He took to the sport at the age of 15 and has trained in Himachal Pradesh, the hub of Winter Sports in India. (Sochi 2014: Five things to know about the Winter Olympics)
In his first tryst at the 1997 Olympics, Keshavan finished 28th. His life in the Olympics began at a young age and he continued to represent the nation in every edition of the event that followed. In 2002, he was the only athlete from India in the Winter Games held at Salt Lake City in USA. In this competition, Keshavan finished 33rd. In 2006 in Torino, Italy, Keshavan finished 25th, his best Olympic performance. At Vancouver, Canada in 2010, he came 31st and 28th in the first and second run respectively. (I can represent my countrymen, if not my country at Sochi: Shiva Keshavan)
Keshavan, who is the Asian speed record-holder of 143.3 kmph and Asian track record holder of 49.590 seconds, has won two gold medals at Asia Cup 2011 and 2012 in Nagano. His best performance till date has been a 14th place finish at the Nations Cup in Altengerg in Jan 2009.
With all these achievement to his credentials, Keshavan is not just India's long-standing representative in Winter Olympics but also the only medal hope from the event. Despite the ongoing turmoil between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) that has led to Indian athletes competing without the national flag, Keshavan remains buoyed and determined to make a mark. He has even said that, "If I cannot represent the country, at least I can represent the countrymen."