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India's Keshavan has no country to represent in Sochi Olympics

Last updated on: February 07, 2014 10:56 IST

India's Keshavan has no country to represent in Sochi Olympics

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India's sole luge athlete Shiva Keshavan has qualified for the Winter Olympics, to be held in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi, for a record fifth time.

But only for this Olympics the Asia Cup gold medallist is listed as an Independent Olympic Athlete.

- 'Huge letdown to be denied the right to walk under the national flag'

Due to the suspension of the IOA from the Olympic fold, the three Indians -- Keshavan, Nadeem Iqbal and Himanshu Thakur -- will participate in the Games as Independent Athletes, under the banner of the IOC.

Which mans, instead of the Indian flag on his jacket, he will wear the Olympic Rings.


Image: Independent Olympic Participant Shiva Keshavan gets prepared during a men's luge training session ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

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'Indian flag or not, they cannot take the fact away that I'm Indian'

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The IOC said India could be reinstated if it held new elections, but the IOA has scheduled those elections for February 9, two days after the Winter Games begin.

However, by now, Keshavan has shown he can overcome any challenge.

At the age of 16, he made his first appearance at Nagano '98, and went on to participate at every event since then.

"It's actually quite disappointing because we are professional athletes and we do this for the pride of representing our country," Keshavan told Sky Sports.

"That's one of the main motivations; but you know, Indian flag or not, I think they cannot take the fact away that I'm Indian.”


Image: Independent Olympic Participant Shiva Keshavan
Photographs: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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'I will have competed for India in my heart'

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"When I go down the track I'll be supported by so many Indians from all over the world," he added.

India's sole Olympic medal hopeful at this year's Winter Games already has an impressive string of successes behind him: two Asia Cup gold medals, one silver and one bronze, and he's broken Asian luge speed records.

"Whether there's an Indian flag or not," Keshavan said, "I will have competed for India in my heart.”


Image: Independent Olympic Participant Shiva Keshavan gets prepared during a men's luge training session
Photographs: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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