India’s five-time Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan has said that the deaf ear turned to his desperate pleas for financial support by the Sports Ministry could compel him to quit the sport of luge. “After 19 years of representing India internationally, this critical development can potentially force me to prematurely end my career,” the 2-time Asian Champion in the event of luge, said.
“Ever since the current Hon’ble Sports Minister has taken charge, there has been absolutely zero funding from the government for my expenses towards sport. Despite numerous meetings and repeated assurances from the highest levels of the Ministry, there seems to be no will to support winter sports, undoing all the progress that has been made over the last two decades,” India’s pioneering ice athlete who has won 7 medals at the Asian level, added. “Sadly, now that I am reaching the peak of my career and I require government assistance to reach the top of the world ranking, the current ministry has turned deaf to my requests for basic financial support. I have not been given a coach, nor any equipment, nor any expenses for travel, training and competition,” he said.
Keshavan has been paying for his coach, 21-time world champion Duncan Kennedy, from his own pocket on the assurances given to him by the government last year that they would support him. “So far I’ve paid his salary myself to the tune of $4,000 per month from my corporate endorsement money. Now I’m dry,” he said.
The 34-year-old had identified a personal coach for the first time in his 19-year career, aiming at the 2018 Olympic Games in Korea. “One year later, and after having exhausted all the resources I ever had to pay the coach’s salary, training, equipment and all other expenses, personally, I am unable to continue anymore, unless the Ministry steps in immediately,” he said.
“The Korea Olympic Games will be a huge event in Asia, and if there is no representation from India, it will be a shame for us at a time when we should be aiming to make a mark at the Olympic level,” he ended.