Shiva Keshavan, India’s face for Winter Sports, bid farewell to Luge on Sunday after finishing at 34th place in the Men’s Luge Singles event at the Winter Olympics, PyeongChang 2018.
This was Shiva’s 6th Olympics which is the maximum number of participation in terms of edition at Winter Games from India, and next to Leander Paes (7) only if we count Summer Olympics as well.
What a great career he had. He’s been India’s flagbearer for six straight Winter Olympics.
In an era where India still trying to improve in Summer Olympics, Shiva was the India’s face in Winter Sports.
He has been the first Indian to compete in luge and youngest ever Luger to participate at the Winter Olympic Games when he participated at the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano at the age of 16. Since then, he has been a part of each of the Winter Olympics.
Son of an Indian father and an Italian mother, Shiva was born and brought up in Manali and attended Lawrence School, Sanawar.
In his childhood days, Shiva was interested in Skiing and won Junior National Ski Championship in 1995 at the age of 14.
At the age of 15, he attended a luge camp at his school conducted by world champion Günther Lemmerer and he shifted his interest to Luge from Skiing.
He could represent Italy in the same Sports since his mother was an Italian. Even Italian Luge team offered him support, coaches, and training facilities but he didn’t take any of these offers and choose to represent India at the International level.
Whatever conditions (Training, Fund, Support etc.) have, he always proved himself and made India proud at every moment. Early in his career, he had to borrow sleds for his races.
Most of the fund he got for tournament and training was from crowdfunding through the internet.
He is the reigning Asian champion in luge and the speed record holder and won the Championship 4 times (2017, 2016, 2012, 2011). He also won Silver medals 4 times (2015, 2014, 2013, 2009) and the Bronze medals 2 times (2008, 2005)
Shiva became a poster boy of Indian Winter Sports after his Youtube video wherein his training on Himalayan roads got very popular.
On 10th February 2018 when he completed his 2nd Run he jumped over the barrier and celebrated the end of his run along with the Indian spectators. He did the same thing on Sunday as well after completing his 3rd Run which was his final Olympic run, as only the top 20 will get a fourth run.
By finishing 34th in PyeongChang games it brought the curtains down on Shiva’s two-decade-long and fantastic career.
As for India, its almost an end of era and it would now be very difficult to find Shiva’s replacement in Luge but this end also bought a new light of hope which will inspire a new generation of Athletes.
Yes, still Government, Federations and Officials have to work in the field of development to improve and create facilities for athletes.
But at last, we can only say #ThankYouShiva! It was a memorable journey!