Born to an Italian mother Shiva Keshavan could have easily got an Italian citizenship and hoped for greener pastures in Europe.
Instead, he chose the country where he was born and brought up and made India proud by flying the Tri-colour at one of the world’s biggest sporting arenas where very few Indians earn the right to compete — the Winter Olympics. However, when it came to recognition from the country, he hardly got any.
“As it is India do not have as many athletes in winter sport compared to other countries. If the existing few are not even taken care of or appreciated, how will we progress?” says Keshavan, the most seasoned winter Olympian of the country.
Next month in Sochi, Russia, Keshavan is going to join the league of the country’s handful of sportspersons, who have the honour of representing the country in five or more Olympics.
And apart from that, he is ranked among the top in the continent and has four Asian level medals, including a gold and also holds an Asian record.
But despite his long list of accomplishments this winter Olympian is yet to receive the Arjuna Award.
And worse, he has not even got recognition from his home state Himachal Pradesh. A hub of winter sports, Himachal Pradesh’s highest sporting honour is the ‘Parshuram Award’. “These sporting honours are a big motivation for any sportsperson and for us it’s the ultimate honour,” says Keshavan, who hails from Vashisht village in Manali.
But like a true sportsperson, Keshavan is disappointed not for being ignored for the national honour, but not been able to compete under the Tri-colour this time.
“Every Olympics is unique, and it takes many years of struggle to get there. It is always a new and equally exhilarating feeling. But this time is slightly different. There is a touch of disappointment that we will be denied the right to walk under our country’s flag by a few people from our own country,” says Keshavan.