Shiva Keshavan, the fastest Indian on ice, talks about his journey as a luge racer

Champion of a little known sport but a star in his own way, Shiva Keshavan is a stirring role model for this generation. The luge racer comes across a humble man who has set benchmarks that should motivate many to aim for distinction in individual sports.

At 31, Keshavan is convinced he is at a stage where another good showing at the international level would propel his own image. It would also boost the following for this winter sport. It is an exacting event. But then Keshavan is a man of steel when it comes to pursuing his dreams.

He loves being termed the ‘fastest Indian on ice’. He has trained hard to acquire this reputation. “It was a hard grind. To be a champion, you have to punish your body, make sacrifices. I have done that for many, many years,” says Keshavan even as wife Namita nods.

Namita has been the silent but dogged supporter of her husband’s journey to glory. “I gave up my career to be with him and give him moral support,” adds Namita, who went to London School of Economics.

Recently, Keshavan defended his Asian title at Nagano in Japan. “I beat a strong Japanese field,” the pride in his voice not to be missed. He timed 49.59 after having recovered from two torn shoulder ligaments during preparation. His training was hampered to some extent but not his resolve.

Against odds

Lack of infrastructure and financial support did not dampen his spirits. “It was tough but it also made me tough. It was a passion and I just wanted to achieve my goal for the sake of the sport. As an Indian I am very proud that I have excelled in winter sport. I want to win a gold for India in winter Olympics,” insists Keshavan, who was the youngest to participate in the luge race in Olympics.

Keshavan has set his sight on the next winter Olympics, which would be his fifth. “I have a good chance if I prepare well,” he notes. A congratulatory message from the Union Sports Ministry has given Keshavan hopes of support from the government in his preparation for the winter Olympics.

With Namita as his guide and philosopher, the luge champion is set to take off and earn India glory in winter sport.