In the 1998 Winter Olympics, alongside the contingents from other countries, marched the sole representative from India, with a borrowed sled, plastic shoes and an ill-designed uniform - alone, with pride, holding the tricolour high. Shiva Keshavan, who grew up in the snow-peaked hills of Manali was only 16 - the youngest luge player at the Olympics so far - yet his resolve to make his country proud stood out as he marched alone, announcing to everyone at the Winter Olympics, that though not in numbers, India was indeed present - in the unmatched spirit of Shiva.
And this is not all! Long after his Luge event had concluded, he stayed back at the Olympic village to carry the Indian flag at the closing ceremony - an intimation that he will return, again and again, until he wins a Gold for his country.
There was almost no media coverage for this brave act. But, Shiva’s never been worried about acknowledgement. His love for his sport and for representing his country are satisfying rewards. After 20 years of hard work, he has achieved recognition, only in bits, sometimes in small sections of the newspaper and sometimes a 200-word piece on the internet. (The most incredible one being this ode by Mitch Albom).
Shiva has given more than 20 years of this life to the sport. He was won 2 Golds, 4 silvers and 2 bronze medals at Asia Luge Cup! And, in December 2016, along with the Gold medal at Asian Championship, he established himself as the fastest luger in Asia with a record speed of 134.3 km/h!
In the 2014 Sochi Olympics, when India was barred from participating, Shiva went as an independent. But, he did not leave his country behind. Though he was forbidden from wearing the flag, he printed the names of all his Indian supporters on his uniform and once again, carried India on his shoulders and in his spirit to the Olympics.
Being this accomplished, Shiva still faces trouble to fund this training. Due to lack of proper Luge facilities in India, he has to train on Himalayan roads to hone his skills and often has to travel outside the country for training, the majority of the costs of which are met out of his own pockets.
He deserves more from the country he represents. He deserves more from a country he refused to abandon when he was offered Italian citizenship along with the best resources and training facilities, in turn for representing Italy. Shiva choose India and now it’s India’s turn to choose Shiva.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are not far, and he needs our motivation and backing now!
But in order to give his best in South Korea 2018, Shiva needs participate in various World Cups and travel to Norway, Austria, Germany, Canada, USA, Latvia, Japan and South Korea for training before he can qualify for the Olympic main event.
Shiva needs Rs.30,00,000 towards the following costs to prepare:
Here’s how you can empower Shiva:
1) Fund Shiva’s coaching, training, nutrition, gear and travel costs by contributing generously to this fundraiser
2) Share the fundraiser with your friends and family on social media, Whatsapp or email
3) Start a Support Fundraiser to pool in money from your friends, family, colleagues and others in your network
Empower Shiva Keshavan to glide his way to a Gold in 2018 Winter Olympics!