Shiva Keshavan is India’s only known and accomplished face at the Winter Olympic Games, and has been so for 14 years now, when he first qualified for the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998 at the age of 16. He still holds the world record for being the youngest ever Luge athlete at the Olympic Games.
Since then, Keshavan has qualified and participated in 4 Olympic Games (Nagano 1998, Salt Lake 2002, Torino 2006, Vancouver 2010) and has now officially qualified for his 5th Olympic participation in Sochi in 2014.
Shiva was born in the Himalayas, in a picturesque village called Vashisht in Himachal Pradesh, to an Indian father and an Italian mother. He attended the Lawrence School Sanawar, on scholarship, after which he went to the University of Florence to pursue a degree in International Relations, also on scholarship. He was picked up in a talent scout camp by an ex World Champion, Gunther Lemmerer, when he was 15 and still in Sanawar. His brother, Devan Daniel, plays football in an amateur league in Italy.
Keshavan has created history for India numerous times now. He won the first ever Gold medal for India in any international winter sport event, at the Asia Cup in Nagano, Japan in December 2011. He did this while setting the new Asian speed record at 134.3 kmph. Prior to this, he won the Asian Silver medal (Singles) in 2009, and Bronze (Singles) and Silver (Doubles) in 2008. Shiva was offered to represent Italy in Luge, but he refused and chose to represent the country he was born in.
His sport, the Luge, is a time based, high-speed sport and requires an extremely high level of fitness, balance and concentration, negotiating curves while being at, upto, 150 kmph and experiencing centrifugal force of over 7 g! The luge sled does not have any engine, nor are there any brakes, only steel blades; Once you start you have no option but to try and reach the finish as fast as you can!