Keshavan qualifies for Winter Oly

India’s sole luge athlete, Shiva Keshavan has qualified for the Winter Olympics to be held in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi from February 7 to 23.

Keshavan received a letter from the International Luge Federation on Friday, informing him of allocation of the Olympic berth. The letter also mentioned the remaining mandatory participation in one World Cup and 20 official training runs post January 1 this year.

Having already completed his World Cup runs, Keshavan is now preparing for the 20 official training runs.

The Sports Ministry has been bearing the cost of the mandatory training and races leading up to the Winter Olympics for the athlete, given the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

“I am looking forward to taking part in Sochi. I would like to thank the sports ministry, the international luge federation and the IOC for all their support. This also would not have been possible without all my well wishers and sponsors,” Keshavan said.

Asia Cup gold medallist Keshavan is currently training at the Olympic track in Albertville, France and this will be his fifth Olympic appearance.

An accomplished Winter Olympian, Keshavan set a new Asian speed record at 134.3 km/h and won gold medal in Asia Cup 2011 at Nagano in Japan. In 2012, he retained the Asian title by winning the Gold Medal at the Asia Cup in Nagano and setting a new Asian track record at 49.590 seconds.

He, however, had to be content with the silver medal in the same event in 2013.

Due to the suspension of the IOA from Olympic fold, the three Indians — Keshavan, Nadeem Iqbal and Himanshu Thakur — will be taking part in the Sochi Games as Independent Athletes under the banner of the IOC.

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