Shiva Keshavan wants to foster the Olympic way of life in India

The six-time Winter Olympian wants to use his experience to help India realise its potential in winter sports.

By Uthatya Nag

Luger Shiva Keshavan put India on the map at the Winter Olympics for well over two decades before finally hanging up his luge. But he isn’t done contributing to the country’s winter sports legacy just yet.

The Manali-born athlete intends to use his learnings and status to try and alleviate the lives of the millions residing in the hilly regions of India whilst nurturing the ‘Olympic way of life’ across the country.

“There are 50-60 million people living in the Himalayas who can use sport to work in fields such as tourism, development, hospitality, science, and technology. It is something I'd really forward to dedicating more of my life to.

“I'd also like to foster an Olympic way of life, you know, the philosophy of the Olympic Games. I'd like to take the core message of the Olympics to the people,” he told Firstpost during a recent interview.

While Indian representation at the Winter Games began with Jeremy Bujakowski way back in 1964, Shiva Keshavan has, by far, been the most consistent Indian athlete on the big stage, taking to the ice for his country in the 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 editions.

In the first two, he was India’s sole representative.

Making things easier for the next generation

The triumphs, though, haven’t come easy for the four-time Asian Luge Championships gold medallist. Pursuing a competitive winter sport in India, especially a highly technical discipline like luge, presented its own set of challenges for Shiva Keshavan.

He had to toil hard and innovate to pursue his passion in a country which lacked the proper infrastructure and training facilities, including coaches, for the sport.

Having broken through the challenges on the back of his own hardwork and willpower, Shiva Keshavan also vowed to make the path smoother for upcoming winter sports athletes in the country.

“I don't think of the past a lot. I try to think about what I can do for future generations. I have had my share of struggles, but now I want to make things easy for the next generation.

“I think India has tremendous potential for winter sports. We are not even scratching the surface in terms of understanding it,” India’s first, and only, representative in competitive luge at the Games noted.

For the love for his country

On what made him persevere despite the many adversities, the answer came easy for Shiva Keshavan, who once turned down an opportunity to represent Italy – his mother’s birth country – to continue his service for the tricolor.

“I never really had an ambition for fame or money. I would feel alive in the track...I would feel I am part of something really passionate.

“When I got the opportunity to represent the country, I felt committed to a cause far bigger than myself, and despite everything, I'd say I am lucky that I had this chance,” he said.