This Winter Olympics will be my last one: Shiva Keshavan

Vastavam web: Competing in his sixth and last Winter Olympics, pioneer luger Shiva Keshavan wants to overcome a recent injury and end his international career with a flourish during the Pyeongchang Games, starting this week.The 36-year-old, who has represented India in every Winter Olympics since 1998, has decided to call it quits after taking part in the February 9-25 event.He added, “So this Winter Olympics will be my last one, this will be my last international event.”

Son of an Indian father from Kerala and an Italian mother, Keshavan was born and brought up in Manali. He is the reigning Asian champion in luge and the speed record holder.”When IOA was suspended (during 2014 Sochi), I took part in the opening ceremony as an independent athlete (under IOC flag). Except for that one, I had held the flag in all other Olympics at either opening or closing ceremony.”Every four years, I had the honour of carrying the country on my shoulders. That is an amazing feeling. I will be happy if more Indians start taking part in Winter Olympics.”

Unlike in the summer Olympics, very few Indians have taken part in Winter Olympics. Only tennis legend Leander Paes (7 summer Olympics) has taken part in more editions than him.”I had a crash while competing in Germany and I had a few hairline fractures. I am feeling good now but still not 100 per cent. My event is on Feb 10 and 11, and hopefully, I will be 100 per cent fit by that time.

“I haven’t stopped training but doing it without starting drill, only sliding down the track by using body and feet and not using hand. Hand is important for the initial momentum.” Otherwise, the build-up has been satisfactory with his own coach Duncan Kennedy, the former American Winter Olympian.”I have more confidence from the equipment point of view.I am approaching with a plan. I will try my best and will see how the track and weather conditions are on that day.”

Keshavan has been ploughing a lone furrow for more than two decades but he does not have grudges with the system.”Any support that comes in is welcome. For so long, I have been doing on my own and on the goodwill of people. This time I am happy that with the intervention of sports minister I got this money (Rs 20 lakh).Asked what motivated him to keep going in a less known sport, he said, “I am a small town kid. I grew up making my own ski and sled with my friends at Manali area. We all have a collective dream that one day our area will be known for winter sports.”