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Sochi: Indian athletes have high hopes as flag raised

Veteran luger Shiva Keshavan hopes that a rebooted Indian Olympic Association can usher in a new dawn for the country's struggling winter sports profile after its suspension from the International Olympic Committee.

other Updated: Feb 16, 2014 22:18 IST

Veteran luger Shiva Keshavan hopes that a rebooted Indian Olympic Association can usher in a new dawn for the country's struggling winter sports profile after its suspension from the International Olympic Committee.

Keshavan, taking part in his fifth Games, was on hand Sunday to see the Indian flag belatedly raised in the mountains at the Sochi Olympics' Rosa Khutor venue after the team had been forced to originally compete as independents.

The IOC on Tuesday had ended a 14-month ban, reinstating India with immediate effect although they had been forced to march at the opening ceremony under the IOC flag.

"This is the flag of our country. The change is a symbolic change but now we need to see real change," said 33-year-old Keshavan, whose Sochi Olympics finished in a 37th place in the men's luge.

"We need to see improvements in winter sports, better facilities. They have the power to make a difference and they start with a clean slate.

"There are 3,000km of the Himalayas in our country. There are so many young people who aspire to be in winter sports and their dreams and aspirations are on the shoulders of the new administration."

Keshavan was joined at the flag-raising ceremony by newly-elected Indian Olympic Association president N Ramachandran and cross country skier Nadeem Iqbal.

"We didn't have the flag at the opening ceremony and that was disappointing," added Keshavan.

"Politics and the national flag should be kept separate. We just hope now for good governance and better facilities."

India's reinstatement into the IOC caused a minor headache -- the urgent need to have uniforms branded with the country's name.

But Roshan Lal Thakur, the coach and father of alpine skier Himanshu Thakur, found a friend in Russia who managed to deliver.

"We didn't have 'India' printed on our dress, so he said 'OK I try' and he managed it," Thakur senior told the Olympic News Service after touring the village with Ramachandran.