Indian luge pioneer Keshavan fears slide into oblivion
By Sudipto Ganguly ,ReutersMUMBAI -- On more than one occasion, luger Shiva Keshavan has been on the brink of quitting due to India's frosty attitude towards winter sports, but the pioneer's passion and devotion are driving him towards a fifth Olympics.
February 20, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Keshavan was just 16 when he participated in the 1998 Winter Olympics at the Japanese city of Nagano and since then he has represented India at three more Games.
The 31-year-old retained his Asia Cup title in Nagano last December with an Asian track record of 49.590 seconds but the feat has failed to translate into recognition or support in India, where winter sports remain at a very nascent stage.
“When an athlete represents his country, he is like an ambassador for his nation,” Keshavan told Reuters in an interview. “It is normally expected that your foreign trips, your training and your basic expenses are borne by your country.
“It's actually very sad to see that this mentality is not shared by our sports administrators.
“When I go and ask our sports administrators to pay for our training expenses, it seems like I am asking for a personal favor.”
Last month, Keshavan lost his coach Yann Fricheteau, a former Olympian, after the Frenchman quit due to the non-payment of his salary.
“Over the years, I have come to know of the government schemes and funds that are meant for supporting the athletes and I am eligible for so many of these things,” he said by phone.
“I have been applying but despite that, nothing is happening. Despite promises, nothing has materialized and it has merely stayed at words and promises.”
The International Olympic Committee granted the luger the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship on Monday which will help him travel and participate in the test event and the World Cup final, a mandatory qualifying race for next year's Sochi Games.