Six-time Olympian Shiva Keshavan says why the first is always 'special'

Shiva Keshavan’s constant quest to learn and improve prolonged his Winter Olympics career and help create records in luge.

By Rahul Venkat

Only two Indian sportspeople have ever competed in as many as six Olympic Games. One is Atlanta 1996 bronze medallist Leander Paes, and the other is Shiva Keshavan.

The Indian luger, who made his Winter Olympic debut in 1998 at Nagano, Japan, went on to participate in five other Games, with his final appearance being in 2018 at PyeongChang, South Korea.

Despite so much experience at the biggest stage, Shiva Keshavan feels the first Olympics is the most memorable one, because that was when he realised it's more than just about the competition.

“The first Olympics is always special because it is the first brush with the Olympic movement, which is greater than sport,” Keshavan said on the Instagram Live show ‘In the Sportlight’, hosted by table tennis player Mudit Dani.

“It’s about fellowships, the camaraderie, making friends all over the world and seeing yourself achieve new levels of excellence. Of course, every Olympics in itself is a unique learning experience.”

From that initial fascination in 1998, Shiva Keshavan went on to win multiple medals, including four golds in the Asia Cup, and also set the all-time Asian speed record during his luge career.

Having made his name as an Indian legend, the luger only realized the magnanimity of his achievements two years ago.

“At the 2018 Winter Olympics, an athlete from another country came up to me to ask for my autograph and when I asked him why he wanted it, he told me that I was one of the few people who had played in six Olympics,” Shiva Keshavan narrated.

“Till that moment, I had not realised how much time it had been since I started playing.”

Helping fellow Olympians

Having hung up his sled right after PyeongChang 2018, Shiva Keshavan has since shifted his focus to mentoring young kids, with his main aim being to pick talent from Himachal Pradesh and groom them to be future stars.

Shiva Keshavan is equally aware of the support Olympians need post-retirement, which was why he founded the Olympians Association of India.

“It was started to create solidarity amongst people who share a similar life story and share so many values with the Olympic movement,” said the 38-year-old Keshavan.

“These are people who have given so much to the country and they need an organization of peers to support them. I want to involve athletes in the development of sports.”