Indian luger Keshavan undeterred by icy apathy

Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:24am EST
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By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Sixteen years after hurtling down the ice on a borrowed luge at the 1998 Nagano Games, India's Shiva Keshavan will make his fifth Winter Olympic appearance in Sochi next month, still supported more by goodwill than the system.

Winter sports languish at the bottom of the pecking order in cricket-mad India, leaving athletes short on funding and crying out for attention.

Three weeks before the Sochi Games commence, two of Keshavan's skiing team mates are still waiting government funding to buy Olympic standard equipment.

"I felt like quitting once a few years back, when I had no money -- not just to carry on, but to even support myself for day-to-day expenses," the 32-year-old told Reuters in an email interview.

"Countries invest four years of technology and money and other resources, with the help of world class coaches and technology companies, to develop equipment.

"I have had no such backing, and I have been resorting to borrowed, rented and second-hand equipment in the past."

Born to an Indian father and Italian mother in a hamlet in the Himalayas, the luger somehow always found good Samaritans along the way.

"In the Nagano Games in 1998, I borrowed a sled from the Koreans free of cost, in Salt Lake 2002 and Torino 2006, the International Luge Federation (FIL) provided me with a sled, and in Vancouver 2010, a group of five Indian lawyers pooled in to buy me a sled," he said.   Continued...

Shiva K.P. Keshavan of |ndia prepares to start a training run for the men's singles luge in preparation for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, February 13, 2010. REUTERS/Tony Gentile