File photo of Shiva Keshavan.
Olympic Sports

5 Fun Facts About India’s Winter Olympics Legend Shiva Keshavan

Luger Shiva Keshavan and cross country skier Jagdish Singh are the only Indians who will take part in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in South Korea. The former is set to participate in his final Winter Olympics.

Keshavan is the first Indian to compete in Luge at the Winter Olympics. He took part in his first Winter Games at the age of 16 in Nagano in 1998. The 36-year-old has competed in most number of Winter Olympics among Indians.

As he prepares for his sixth Winter Olympics, here’s a look at five fun facts from his career.

1. Discovered in Panchkula

Shiva Keshavan in action.

World champion Gunther Lemmerer and his team travelled to Panchkula to look for new talent in Luge. They came across Shiva Keshavan, who showed potential while moving on a sled.

Lemmerer and his team took him to Austria and in the very next year, Keshavan became the youngest to compete in Luge at the Winter Olympics.

2. Needed a Hand-me-down Sled

Shiva Keshavan borrowed a sled for his first Winter Olympics.

Believe it or not, Keshavan arrived for his first Winter Olympics without a sled and a jacket. The Indian government didn’t cover the luger’s cost and therefore Keshavan had to borrow an oversized jacket and a sled for the competition.

I guess I was so young that I didn’t get affected by anything. Performance-wise, it remains one of my best races.
Shiva Keshavan told The Indian Express

3. First Indian to Win a Medal at the Winter Asian C'ship

Keshavan, who is called the fastest Indian on ice, became the first Indian to win a medal at the Winter Asian Championship after bagging the bronze medal in Nagano, Japan in 2008.

He went onto win four silver and four gold medals at the event in his 20-year career.

4. Italy Offered Keshavan A Chance to Compete For Them

The Manali luger has struggled to get the best of facilities and coaches because of lack of funds, but in 2002, Italy gave a chance for him to show his true potential in the sport.

The Italian team offered all their facilities and coaches to him, but they wanted him to compete for Italy.

Keshavan declined the offer as he wanted to compete only for India.

For me the dream was to get the Olympics to my hometown, and that was the only reason I was doing it. To show that we are also here.
Shiva Keshavan

5. Wore 50,000 Donor Names on His Uniform

Shiva Keshavan competes at the Sochi Winter Games.

Shiva Keshavan has scrapped through his career with the help of many donors and sponsors, who have allowed him to attain his equipment and keep himself in shape for tournaments.

During the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, Keshavan wrote the names of all the 50,000 donors on his uniform before competing in the tournament.

The sponsors and the people who’ve taken me places are always on my mind. It’s very humbling, knowing how I am a small piece of a very big picture.
Shiva Keshavan to The Indian Express

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