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Rediff.com  » Sports » Huge letdown to be denied the right to walk under the national flag: Shiva Keshavan

Huge letdown to be denied the right to walk under the national flag: Shiva Keshavan

Last updated on: January 15, 2014 13:41 IST

Huge letdown to be denied the right to walk under the national flag: Shiva Keshavan

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'We face the humiliation caused by people who have not taken their responsibilities seriously.'

'I know what it will take to get on the podium, and I will be working towards it till the Olympic Games in Korea 2018.'

Luger Shiva Keshavan, who will participate in his fifth Winter Olympics at Sochi next month, tells Rediff.com's Harish Kotian why he is motivated to perform for India despite not getting enough support from the government and sports officials.

Ever since Shiva Keshavan decided to take up the luge, winning an Olympic medal and proudly witnessing the tri-colour flutter on the biggest sporting stage is his dream.

As he gets ready for next month's Sochi Winter Olympics, with an eye on the coveted gold medal, he is hugely disappointed with the International Olympic Committee's sanctions against the Indian Olympic Association, barring Indian athletes from competing under the national flag.

Despite the setback, he enters the Games confident, having won the silver medal at the Asia Cup in Nagano last month.

Keshavan has represented India at four Winter Olympics. At 16, he was the youngest athlete at the 1998 Games, at Nagano. At Sochi, he will be the lone athlete representing the country.

In an e-mail interview with Rediff.com's Harish Kotian, the 32-year-old Manali-born athlete, whose father hails from Kerala and mother from Italy, talks about his preparation for the Games and his determination to succeed.

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Image: Shiva Keshavan leads the Indian team into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Photographs: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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'We face the humiliation caused by people who have not taken their responsibilities seriously'

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How disappointing is it to compete under the IOC flag and not the Indian tri-colour?

The essence of the Olympic Games is to 'represent'. We, as sportspeople, are motivated to perform, because we represent our people wherever we are competing.

In the first place, it is a huge let down to be denied the right to walk under our national flag by some people from our own country.

It not only exposes the state of affairs of sport, and the people who govern it, to everyone in India, but to everyone around the world.

We athletes are the face of the country and we face the humiliation caused by people who have not taken their responsibilities seriously.

You just need to do a simple Internet search to see that almost every country's national newspaper has run the news of India's ouster from the Olympics. I am deeply saddened.

Do you support the IOC's stand barring corruption-tainted officials from contesting elections to the IOA? Will it improve Indian sports administration?

There is no question about the fact that the IOC Charter needs to be followed.

More so, without anyone from the outside having to dictate it, it should be assumed that ethics must be followed in every walk of life, whether it is sport or politics.

Including the IOC Charter in the IOA's constitution is the first step.

Implementation is what will define how Indian sports administration will improve or not.

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Image: Shiva Keshavan in action.
Photographs: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Tags: IOC , IOA , India

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'This story is of hundreds of athletes who are denied facilities'

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Indian athletes for the London Summer Olympics got a lot of financial support. Is it depressing that you had to seek support from fans to fund your training for Sochi?

This story is not just of mine, but of many hundreds of promising athletes who are denied basic rights and facilities.

I am not easily depressed. I am motivated to work towards the betterment of sport in India.

It is all the more encouraging when the people of India, my fans, friends and family come together to make this into a country's mission.

How much help did Olympic Gold Quest provide?

OGQ has provided extensive support. They have supported me for over two years now, helping cover training and equipment needs, while also providing other basic support, like access to physiotherapists.

In 2013, they launched a crowd-funding campaign through Ketto, one of the first of its kind in India, towards helping me procure equipment.

This helped bring thousands of people around the country together to be personally part of this colossal Olympic mission.

The spirit of the campaign was patriotic and motivating.

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Image: Shiva Keshavan gets ready for the event.


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'I have been training these past three years with very limited resources'

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How have you prepared for the Sochi Games? How confident are you of winning a medal?

I have been training these past three years with very limited resources.

I won two gold medals and a silver at the Asian Championships during this time.

My form has kept getting better.

The challenge is to compete with teams that have invested high amounts of money and resources over four years to get top class coaching, training and technologically superior equipment, unique to each country, while I have struggled to put things together in my garage.

I know what it will take to get on the podium, and I will be working towards it till the Olympic Games in Korea 2018.


Image: Shiva Keshavan

Tags: Korea

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