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Keshavan slides into Olympics sunset

Chandigarh, February 2

Shiva Keshavan, the man who periodically brought the strange world of icy sports into the consciousness of Indian sports fans, has ended his career, finishing 34th at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Before Keshavan, there was little for Indian media to write about the Winter Olympics. For some reason, it was only women’s figure skating that attracted attention — especially superstars such as Katarina Witt or Michelle Kwan. Or a weird story, such as a team from the sunny Jamaica competing at the Winter Olympics.
Before Keshavan, no one would have thought it possible that India would compete at the Winter Olympics in a sport that is unfathomable to most Indian fans.
The luge competition involves lying prone on your back on a sled, which goes around an icy track at very high speeds, up to 140km/hour. The sled is steered by subtle body pressure and shift of weight on it.
Final run

Today, before he launched his sled on his final run in the Olympics, Keshavan took a long breath, trained his eyes on the track ahead, closed his helmet visor and started.
Less than a minute later, he was done, having finished with a time of 48.900 seconds, the 30th best in the third heat. He lifted his sled above his head and celebrated, even as fans cheered him. His family and friends, comprising his support base at the venue, were carrying the national flag and placards that said ‘Go Shiva’ and ‘Nothing can stop the fire’. His final race was done.
Today his speed was clocked at 119.8km/hour for the 1.344km race. The gold went to David Gleirscher, whose top speed today was 121.6km/hour. The difference was less than 2km/hour, but it resulted in a difference of 33 positions.
For the record, Keshavan finished 34th among 40 competitors. He had timed 50.578s and 48.710s yesterday, and his three-round total was 2m, 28.188s.
End of the road

Keshavan first competed at the Winter Olympics back in 1998, as a 16-year-old, and this was his sixth consecutive participation in the event.
Keshavan’s best Olympics result was 25th at the Turn Olympics, and his most memorable performance was winning the gold at the 2011 Asia Cup in Nagano. He is the reigning Asian champion and the speed record holder.
Son of a Malayali father and Italian mother, Keshavan was born and brought up in Manali. Keshavan was the face of winter sports in India for over two decades. What happens after him? Winter sports disciplines are extremely niche events, and support and participation are minimal. It’s difficult to imagine anyone replacing him any time soon.
Luger Shiva Keshavan brought the curtains down on his over two-decade international career with a 34th-place finish in the luge singles event of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Sunday
Taking part in his sixth and last Winter Olympics, the 36-year- old from Manali coverered the 1,344m track at the Olympic Sliding Center in 48.900 seconds in his third-round heat
The effort put him at the 30th place in the third heat among 40 competitors and 34th overall after three rounds
Tough to follow in his footsteps: WGFI secretary
Chandigarh: “He represented the country in six Olympics, he’s a legend, he did everything on his own,” said Roshan Thakur, secretary of the Winter Games Federation of India. “So, who after Shiva? We need to think why there’s no one to take his place!” Thakur added. “He had been representing the country for the last two decades, yet we couldn’t prepare anyone to replace him. I’m not sure if we would have a participant in the next Winter Olympics.” He said that winter sports should be added to the list of priority sport, to make sure financial support and jobs are available for sportspersons.
“There’s a provision of awards for medals at the Olympics, but it is impossible to win medals at the Olympics without support and financial help,” Thakur added. “Start with Shiva, offer him a good position and involve him in the promotion of winter sports,” Thakur said. “He’s our legend, treat him like one, and that will set a good example and encourage winter sports athletes.”

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