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Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan's 2014 Sochi suit to be on display at the Olympic Museum

Sarah Waris
342   //    04 May 2018, 20:38 IST

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What’s the story?

Six-time Winter Olympian and India’s first representative in luge, Shiva Keshavan’s suit from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics has been chosen to be displayed at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne in Switzerland.

It was the 36-year-old’s fifth Winter Olympics in 2014, where he had finished 37th out of 39. He bid adieu to the sport after finishing 34th in the Pyeongchang Games that were held earlier this year.

In case you didn’t know…

Keshavan’s Sochi suit had made headlines in 2014 after the athlete had offered his countrymen an opportunity to be featured on his uniform. Back then, the Indian Olympic Association had been banned by the International Olympic Committee, which meant that Keshavan along with two skiers from the country took part as independent athletes, playing under the IOC flag.

As he could not wear the Indian uniform in the Games nor could he have India’s insignia on his uniform, Keshavan decided to honour his country in his own special way.

The player from Himachal Pradesh donned a special cap that was made from a yellow, gold and red patterned fabric that symbolised his home village and his suit contained names of the donators who had backed him in his quest for the Sochi Games.

The white suit had names in grey adorned in every available spot, which was Keshavan’s way of ensuring that India was represented in the event, albeit in an unconventional manner.

The heart of the matter

The IOA had been banned by the IOC after the governing body accused the Indian Association of mismanagement and corruption. The country was banned in December 2012 after it had defined the global body and appointed Lalit Bhanot as its general secretary.

Bhanot had spent more than 10 months in jail after he had been amid corruption charges that plagued the IOA once the Commonwealth Games in 2010 ended.

The Indian body did hold fresh elections once Bhanot stepped aside on February 9 20114 – two days after the Sochi Games began. If they had held the elections earlier, the Indian athletes in the Winter Olympics would not have had to play as independent players – the first time that the Indian Olympians were not playing under the tiranga.


What’s next?

Ever since his retirement, Keshavan has been a member of the five-member ad-hoc committee that has been appointed by the IOA after they suspended the Winter Games Federation of India last year, due to discrepancies in their election procedure. He is keen to start training camps for luge aspirants in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh for children below 14 years of age.

He wants to build teams of eight junior athletes (four girls and four boys), helping them prepare in two disciplines – the natural track and the artificial track.

Author’s take

With not many mementoes of the Indian Olympians on display at the Olympic Museum, this move is a big one indeed. Not only does the International Olympic Committee regard Keshavan’s attempts to bring India to the Sochi Games in 2014 as a patriotic one, it also applauds the career of the 36-year-old who has been playing luge for the last two decades. 

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Sarah Waris
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