Shiva Keshavan

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Shiva Keshavan
2017-12-01 Shiva Keshavan by Sandro Halank–02.jpg
Keshavan in 2017
Personal information
Born (1981-08-25) 25 August 1981 (age 37)
Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India
Country India
Event(s)Men´s singles
Turned pro1998
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)134.3km/h

Shiva Keshavan OLY (born 25 August 1981) is a six time Olympian and the first Indian representative to compete in luge at the Winter Olympic Games. He set a new Asian speed record at 134.3 km/h (83.5 mph) after beating the previous record of 131.9 km/h (82.0 mph) and won gold medal in Asia Cup 2011 at Nagano in Japan. In 2012, he set a new Asian track record at 49.590 seconds. He is the reigning Asian Champion.


Keshavan skied as a child and won the Junior National Ski Championship in 1995 at the age of 14. At the age of 15, he attended a luge camp at his school conducted by world champion Günther Lemmerer.[1] Keshavan was selected as a promising young athlete and went on to become the youngest person to ever officially qualify for the Olympic Games in luge, attending the 1998 Nagano games at the age of 16.

In 2014, Keshavan walked as an Independent Olympic Participant at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi due to the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association. However, later on during the Sochi Winter Olympics, Indian Olympic Association made a comeback as a recognized country by the International Olympic Committee resulting in Keshavan competing under the Indian flag.

Beginning in November 2014, Keshavan collaborated with Duncan Kennedy to train for 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Duncan will act as Keshavan’s personal coach while leveraging his technical expertise to improve Keshavan’s sled.

Keshavan qualified for his sixth and final Olympics in 2018,[2] where he finished 34th out of 40 athletes in the men's singles event.[3]


In 2002, the Italian luge team offered Keshavan full use of their coaches and training facilities if he competed under the Italian flag, but he did not take the offer, insisting he wanted to continue representing India.[4] "For me the dream was to get the Olympics to my hometown, and that was the only reason I was doing it. To show that we are also here."

Keshavan often speaks in interviews about his struggles to finance his career. He claims "in 20 years, the Indian Olympic Association hasn’t given me a dime." Early in his career he would borrow sleds for his races. After landing in Montreal for the 2002 games, he hitchhiked to Salt Lake City.[2] In 2006, he did not compete for two seasons due to running out of funds.[4] Keshavan gets most of his money from crowdfunding on the Internet and in the 2014 Sochi games, his uniform bore the names of 50,000 donors.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Keshavan is the son of an Indian father from Kerala and an Italian mother, who met while backpacking in the Himalayas in the 1970s. His parents run an Italian restaurant in Himachal Pradesh.[4] He was born and brought up in Manali, Himachal Pradesh and attended Lawrence School, Sanawar.[5] He married Namita Agarwal, a former classmate at school, who is also his sports manager. He studied humanities and political science at the University of Florence and received a Master's degree in International relations from the University of Florence. In the training off-seasons, he works at his parents' restaurant.[4]

Keshavan spends time promoting the cause of winter sports in India; a grassroots level luge camp was held in India by Keshavan in 2009 for young athletes interested in trying the sport.[6] Ten were selected to form the Junior National Luge team to train in Japan. Since then, around 200 Indian children have attended his training camps, and after retiring from competition Keshavan plans to focus on recruiting new Indian winter athletes.[4]

Awards and achievements[edit]

  • Arjuna Award, Government of India - nominee, 2012
  • Parshuram Award, Government of Himachal Pradesh - nominee, 2012
  • NDTV Outstanding performer of the year award- winner, 2012
  • Asian Luge cup – Gold Medal, 2011 & 2012
  • Asian Luge cup – Silver Medal, 2009
  • Asian Luge cup – Bronze Medal, 2005 & 2008
  • Youngest luge Olympian in history - 1998 Winter Olympics
  • First Indian luger to qualify for the Winter Olympic Games

2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics results[edit]

Athlete Event Run 1 Run 2 Run 3 Run 4 Total
Time Rankings Time Rankings Time Rankings Time Rankings Time Rankings
Shiva Keshavan Men's singles 50.578 36 48.710 31 48.900 30 Eliminated 2:28.188 34

Popular culture[edit]

Keshavan gained some fame after a training session during which he fell off his sled and yet managed to climb back on and complete the run; the video of the training run was shared widely on the Internet.[7][8]


  1. ^ "OLYMPICS: NAGANO 1998; Teen-Age Luger Carries All of India". New York Times. 3 February 1998.
  2. ^ a b c Bhatt, Gaurav (14 January 2018). "Shiva Keshavan: India's lion in winter". The Indian Express. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Luge Result Men's Singles". 11 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e "The Lonely, Starry-Eyed Mission of India's Sole Luger". New York Times. 1 February 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Shiva Keshavan". Archived from the original on 2001-02-24.
  6. ^ Bolan, Kim (2009-11-06). "Indian luger Shiva Keshavan defines 'makeshift' for 2010 Games". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 2009-11-10.
  7. ^ "Indian luger Shiva Keshavan crashes, then makes amazing save". Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Indian Luger Shiva Keshavan becomes overnight Sensation at Sochi". IANS. Retrieved 8 February 2014.