Indian luger Shiva Keshavan made his Olympic debut as a 16-year-old at the Olympic Winter Games Nagano 1998 and now, 20 years later and with his sixth Winter Games completed in PyeongChang, he has decided to finally hang up the sled. Here, he reveals the keys to enjoying a long Olympic career…
Catching Olympic fever
I was bitten by the Olympic bug almost immediately and it very quickly became my life. But when I first arrived in Nagano, I didn’t really realise the magnitude of the event. It wasn’t until I walked into the Opening Ceremony for the first time – carrying my country’s flag as the only athlete from India – that I got a sense of being a part of something that was much bigger than just myself.
Obviously, I had no idea that I would go so far – before PyeongChang, everyone was saying, “This will be your sixth Olympics”, and it suddenly struck me and I said, “Wow, it’s been a long time”.
A part of me still doesn’t want to let that go because I’ll miss the atmosphere so much. I can understand someone like [Japanese ski jumper] Noriaki Kasai, who wants to stay for 10 Games!
Embracing the Olympic values
To me, the Olympic Movement is all about the ideals; it’s about being a global community, competing against each other and improving each other’s limits, but doing it with respect. That, to me, is the most important thing and, when you commit yourself fully to a cause like that, you have to fight the good fight. That’s the bigger message of the Olympic Games; there’s more that unites us than divides us. When you compete like that under this great order, we all improve as a collective.
Taking your Olympic experiences with you through life
As you grow older you start to learn the deeper meaning of sports and I think that is something that people should be aware of right from the beginning. That’s what makes the Olympic Games special; it is the spirit in which we participate.
To take these things very seriously – not the Olympic gold, but the Olympic Creed, the motto – these are all things that stay with you throughout your life, even after the two weeks of competition are over. It’s such a unique moment and sometimes it’s over before you know it, so you should try to live the Games throughout your life. Of course, concentrate on your event but also be aware of the world that’s around you. It’ll give you something that’ll never leave you for the rest of your life.
Finding your passion
When I look at what I’ve done, I’m very satisfied with my career; it has made me very happy. So my advice to everybody is just to find your passion. It doesn’t have to be luge, it doesn’t have to be any mainstream sport, just something that makes you tick. Just find your passion and then you’ll be able to follow through on it. Find something you like and then be determined, because if you are then you’ll reach anywhere you set out to go.
Deciding what’s next
My dream is still alive; I would like to keep going and compete in more Olympic Games, but at the same time I know that another kind of experience is waiting for me. There is a lot of knowledge that I have accumulated over these years and I have been very fortunate. If, by stopping my career and working with the next generation, I can speed up the youth development and bring more athletes through to the Olympic Games, then I can come back to the Games as a coach. That would still be living the dream.