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Indian luger set for 6th (and likely last) Olympics

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Shiva Keshavan is probably not going to medal at the PyeongChang Olympics.

That doesn’t make him irrelevant.

His name gets heard globally once every four years, because of his story: A guy from India, where there is no great winter sports legacy to speak of, goes to the Olympics — in luge of all things.

When he competes in PyeongChang, it’ll be his sixth and almost certainly final time as an Olympian. He’s never finished better than 25th at an Olympics, and he won’t be a podium contender in February.

Ask him if it was worth it, and he doesn’t hesitate before saying yes.

“I didn’t do this for other people to look at my story,” Keshavan said. “I did it for myself. I did it to improve myself and I feel that I’ve come a long way. Until now I’ve learned a lot, traveled the world, met people all over the world and I’ve been privileged to do that. And, well, if other people look at me, I know they’ll respect me for what I did.”

Keshavan was doomed by sled problems and finished 31st in a 35-slider Nations Cup event Thursday night at Mount Van Hoevenberg, meaning he won’t be in Friday’s World Cup. Only the top 15 from the Nations Cup advanced.

But that doesn’t deter him. It never has.

Keshavan’s attitude has been infectious among other sliders for years, and it’s clear he’ll be missed if this — as he expects — is the end of his Olympic journey.

“It really is kind of like a community that you’re a part of, and it’s something that’s really hard to let go,” said longtime U.S. luger Chris Mazdzer, one of the many on the luge circuit who considers Keshavan a good friend. “It is a lot of fun traveling, competing all around the world with a great group of people.”

Keshavan is sort of an unofficial member of many national teams.

Keshavan calls Lake Placid his home track, even though it’s 7,000 miles from the Himalayan region that is his actual home.

When he finished Thursday night, Australians and Ukrainians were among the first to offer him words of congratulations. And last week Keshavan got help from a Croatian just so he could compete.

Keshavan’s sled broke, so Daria Obratov offered hers.

It was way too small for Keshavan, and not exactly contoured for him, but he used it anyway to finish the Nations Cup race in Calgary — which essentially clinched his spot for PyeongChang.

“Although we represent different countries, the Olympic spirit knows no boundaries,” Obratov said.

Keshavan made his Olympic debut as a 16-year-old at Nagano in 1998, when he placed 28th. He’s been an Olympic regular since, placing 33rd in Salt Lake City in 2002, 25th at Torino in 2006, 29th at Vancouver in 2010 and 37th at Sochi.

He’s always been somewhere around five or 10 seconds behind the gold medalists.

He comes much closer in World Cup races, where sliders compete in two runs instead of the Olympic four. And he hasn’t exploited the system — even though he’s not exactly an Olympic medalist, he is competitive.

Besides, he’ll be a six-time Olympian. That’s more of a legacy than he ever envisioned.

“I gave my best,” Keshavan said. “Maybe that’s the thing I want to be remembered for: He gave his best and he never gave up.”

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IAAF to use study saying female athletes get large testosterone boost in rule appeal

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A scientific paper published Monday found that women who produce higher-than-normal amounts of testosterone have up to a 4.5 percent advantage over their competition on the track, evidence the sport’s governing body will use to potentially sideline Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya and others with so-called intersex conditions.

The International Association of Athletics Federations will use the new study in its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which suspended an IAAF rule that enforced a limit on female athletes’ naturally occurring testosterone levels. The appeal will not affect this year’s world championships, where Semenya is expected to go for her third title at 800m

The study, funded by IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency, and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, analyzed more than 2,100 androgen samples from athletes participating in the 2011 and 2013 world championships.

It found females with higher testosterone levels received a competitive advantage of 1.8 percent to 4.5 percent over female athletes with lower testosterone levels in 400- and 800-meter races, hammer throw and pole vault.

“If, as the study shows, in certain events female athletes with higher testosterone levels can have a competitive advantage of between 1.8 to 4.5 percent over female athletes with lower testosterone levels, imagine the magnitude of the advantage for female athletes with testosterone levels in the normal male range,” said one of the study’s authors, Stephane Bermon.

In 2011, the IAAF enacted a rule to force athletes with hyperandrogenism to artificially lower their testosterone levels to be eligible to compete.

Dutee Chand of India contested the rule and CAS overturned it in time for last year’s Olympics. CAS gave the IAAF two years to produce evidence that hyperandrogenism led to an unfair advantage. IAAF will submit the paper, but said it would have no further comment until the case is concluded.

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MORE: Felix-Semenya clash unlikely for world champs

India Olympic body eyes bid for 2032 Games

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The India Olympic Association asked its government for permission for a 2032 Olympic bid, the organization’s president said, according to Reuters.

“I am telling them if you bid, I will make sure you get it,” N. Ramachandran said, according to the report, adding that he has discussed hosting an Olympics with IOC president Thomas Bach.

The 2024 and 2028 Olympics could both be awarded this summer to Los Angeles and Paris, making the next available Summer Games not until 2032.

India has never been an Olympic bid finalist but has held the Commonwealth Games. In 2010, the New Delhi-hosted multi-sport event came under fire for construction delays, poor infrastructure, unsanitary athletes’ village conditions and corruption.

India is the world’s second-largest country by population with more than 1.3 billion people, but it ranks outside the top 50 nations with 28 all-time medals.

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