Filed under: Dharma
Shiva Keshavan, the lone Indian luger to have represented India in the last two winter Olympic games, is back again for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. This time, he is not alone, there are three other Indian athletes who have qualified: Neha Ahuja (ladiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ giant slalom), Bahadur Gupta (menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sprint), and Hira Lal (menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s giant slalom).
I ran into Shiva, during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. My chances of thatÃ¢â‚¬â€?one in a billion, or as Shiva put it, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Technically 1.1 billion!Ã¢â‚¬Â? Shiva and his dad were at Circuit City, when I noticed him, and I immediately recognized him from the previous nightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opening ceremony broadcast.
Before I knew it, I was talking to Shiva and his dad, and some how I got them to come by my place, so my mom and sister could meet them as well. To make a long story short, before Shiva and his dad left my house that day, Shiva gave me his opening ceremony pass as a souvenir.
The significance of that moment, when I met Shiva, never dawned on me up till now. I realize now that I did not just meet an ordinary athlete; I met an athlete who dared to be the first, a pioneer. That is rare, and I cherish that moment.
But I wonder why a nation is not proud of pioneering athletes like Shiva and continue to ignore them? I find these comments from Keshavan back in December 2005 troubling:
“I have been trying to get some money to cover my training expenses from the government under the Long Term Development scheme but in vain,”
“I just got a chunk of the $35,000 from the International Olympic Committee Solidarity Fund that was distributed between some four or five of us who will be competing at the Winter Olympics,”
“Apart from the Solidarity Fund money I have received nothing. Luge is a very expensive sport and it’s difficult to sustain it for long without financial help from sponsors or federation,”
So fellow bloggers and country men, let us pride in these pioneering athletes of India and support them, as they compete against the porschesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ of the world in their rickety rickshaws!