'Luge tracks and top class facilities' - Shiva Keshavan feels winter sports has a bright future in India
India's greatest Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan has always displayed his determination to give back to the sport of luge and develop winter sports in the country.
Keshavan represented India in six consecutive Winter Olympics was also India's lone representative during the 1998 and 2002 Games. At 16, he made the cut for the 1998 Nagano Games to become the youngest to qualify for the showpiece event in luge.
After a lifetime spent speeding down ice tracks, Keshavan called it quits after the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. He was appointed the chief coach and the High-Performance Director by the Luge Federation of India in August 2020.
One of the first things on his agenda is to facilitate the development of a winter sports facility in the country.
"It's just a concept. We have spoken to sports organizations of various levels. There is the Sports Authority of India that has plans of setting up centers of excellence for various sports across the country and winter sports is also a part of this programme. There is more and more attention going towards developing a center for winter sports," Keshavan told the Olympic Channel.
Keshavan is also in talks with the international luge federation, for design and technical support in building a track in India.
"I terms of the sports venue, I am speaking to the international luge federation that is supporting us with the designs and technical know-how and how to make the track in India," he added.
"We have all the natural conditions in place, we just have to organize and maintain the track and snow and ice. It is just about getting started. Everything is still conceptual. It is still being approved. Once that is done it will take less time to set up the infrastructure."
Manali, Keshavan's hometown could be the base for winter sports in the country, as it is his long-standing dream to utilize the natural facilities available in the town and develop it into a multi-sport facility.
"I was born in what is supposed to be a winter sports hub in India, in Manali, but for 25 years nothing has improved in terms of infrastructure facilities. Since I was a kid, me and the winter sports athletes we dreamt to develop because we have good snow, facilities," the four-time Asian Champion said.
Keshavan said that the area has a large number of people interested in winter sports but due to the cultural gap and lack of understanding, sporting infrastructure has not developed since the last 25 years.
"We have people interested in winter sports but we have never had anyone coming and developing the facilities for winter sports because there is no culture or understanding of what is required. So one of the long-standing dream that I had is this place should turn into a winter sports hub. Now I have a chance to pursue that part," he explained.