India’s flag-bearer on ice, Shiva Keshavan, claimed the first ever gold medal for the country in a major international winter sports event on Sunday, winning the Asia Cup luge title with a new continental speed record in Nagano, Japan on Sunday.
Keshavan pushed the Asian speed record to 134.3 kph, eclipsing the previous mark of 131.9 kph by some margin. The Indian displayed red hot form to push reigning champion Takahisa Oguchi of Japan to second spot. The 30-year-old is also the first non-Japanese to win the prestigious title. Keshavan clocked 50.162 seconds in the first run, which was only 0.09 seconds off the track record, and then 50.221 seconds in the second. He returned an overall timing of 1:40:383, ahead of Oguchi’s aggregate of 1:40.861.He had previously claimed the accolade of the fastest man in Asia, at the Vancouver Olympics last year. The victory should be doubly sweet for Keshavan, who at the age of 16 became the youngest ever luge Olympian when he took part in the 1998 Winter Olympics, also held in Nagano.
Keshavan, who has often struggled for sponsorship since he began chasing international recognition in his early teens, was delighted: “It was a fantastic race, I’m very happy to have won the gold for India and thank all my supporters back home. I’m grateful to my sponsors, MTS and Reebok, who made my participation possible. “I know I can perform even better, and hope to break the remaining track records next time.”