Keshavan keen for a top-20 finish

Keshavan keen for a top-20 finish

Indian luger set to make his fourth appearance

Keshavan keen for a top-20 finish

India’s Shiva Keshavan at a training session on the eve of the Winter Olympic Games at Vancouver, Canada. AFP

Keshavan picked up the back injury after clinching the silver at the Asian Championship in Nagano, Japan late last year.

But having recovered from the injury, the 27-year-old, part of a three-member Indian contingent in Vancouver, said he would be aiming to better the 25th place finish in the 2006 Turin Olympics.

“I want a good result and will be happy to achieve my goal of entering the top 20. I have trained hard during the last four years for this,” Keshavan told PTI from Vancouver.
“I am here for only one job and that is to give my best. That will be the only thing on my mind before the event. I am concentrating hard on my event, which is the first discipline to be held in this year’s Games,” he added.

The Himachal Pradesh-born athlete hoped his week-long training at the venue prior to the main event would help him during the 17-day competition starting on Friday.
“I had a stress fracture after the Asian Championships and that forced me to take rest for three weeks. I also underwent physiotherapy treatment for one week and was not hundred per cent in my starts as it put strain on my back. I gradually increased the force,” he said.

Training in France

“Then I had a week of training in France to get back onto the track. I underwent another week of training in Vancouver prior to the race, in which I went all out to see how I coped with the injury,” Keshavan said.

For the first time in his career, Keshavan has got sponsors — Swiss International Airlines and the Limca Book of Records — to back him at the quadrennial extravaganza.
“Besides the two sponsors, SIA and Limca Book of Records, I have also received support from the Sports Ministry. Now I am definitely aiming to register my personal best on the scoreboard,” Keshavan said.

“I am also receiving tremendous support from the Indian community here. It will definitely give me an extra gear to compete well with so many people cheering me on. And the Asian Championships result will also keep my confidence high during the event,” he added.

Besides Keshavan, ski athletes Tashi Lundup and Jamyang Namgyal will be the other Indian contenders in the Games. Lundup will compete in the Cross Country skiing event, while Namgyal will be in Alpine Skiing section.

Years of planning

Years of planning will come to a head on Friday when the Games gets underway, culminating a long slog for the organisers who are confident there will be no major dramas despite unseasonably warm weather.

Excitement is building in the waterfront city, routinely voted the most livable in the world, as more than 60,000 people prepare to witness first-hand the Olympic cauldron being lit in BC Place stadium during the opening ceremony.

An estimated worldwide television audience of three billion are expected to watch the Games, the third in Canada after the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics, which left the city mired in huge debt for years, and the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.
About 2,500 athletes from more 82 nations will take part in the February 12-28 showpiece, but it hasn’t been a completely smooth ride.

As the clock ticks down, organisers continue to battle warm weather in Vancouver and on nearby Cypress Mountain, the host of the freestyle events.
Tonnes of snow have had to be driven and helicoptered in from higher elevations, with the last-minute rush continuing right up till Friday.

In all, 15 sports will be contested with Germany and Canada the bookmakers’ favourites to top the medal table, with the United States, South Korea and Japan also challenging.

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