Defending champion Shiva Keshavan had to settle for silver at the 16th edition of the luge Asia Cup at Nagano, Japan, on Sunday. Shiva clocked 1:39:750 seconds over two heats. He, however, retained his speed record at 134.3 kmph. Shiva, who trained for two weeks in Nagano prior to the event, had been struggling with his equipment and his runs during training had not been up to the mark. He also had difficulty manoeuvring the sled on faster corners.

Clocking the best start time, Shiva led until the mid-section of the track during both races before falling behind in the finishing stages. Japan’s Hidenari Kanayama won gold with a total time of 1:38:675 seconds.

“I am very happy to win silver for India. At one point, we were far behind the competition but stayed focused on progressing one small step at a time. I am satisfied that I managed to put down two solid runs on the race day and my start was better than previous years,” Shiva said after the race.

“There are some issues with aerodynamics handling in the faster sections but we will continue to work on it,” he added.

Asked about his plans ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Shiva admitted that funding was a hindrance. “There is no doubt that we can do much better internationally. This race has helped me identify my strengths and the areas that need improvement. The good news is that there is a clear understanding of what is needed to win an Olympic medal so that a plan can be worked out. The challenge is achieving it without a full-time coach or a full year budget for training,” Shiva said. He was sanctioned funds for training under the National Sports Development Scheme but full support has been lacking due to the absence of a recognised national sport federation for winter games.

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