Help luge athlete Shiva Keshavan win India's first medal in a Winter Olympics


Modern Olympics began in 1896. India’s debut at the Olympics happened only in 1920, and since then Indian athletes have won a total of 26 medals. Most of these have been in hockey; India won eleven medals in twelve Olympics between 1928 and 1980. Individual medals have been far and few in between, with India having to wait for 92 years, before Abhinav Bhindra shot India a gold at the 2012 London Olympics.

All of India’s medals have come at the Summer Games, in all the editions of the Winter Olympics, an Indian has never graced the podium. This, however, might be about to change. Shiva Keshavan, India’s and Asia’s brightest spark will compete in his fifth Olympics in the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held at Sochi, Russia. Keshavan, is on a hot streak, he has already snapped up gold at the last two Asian Games, and has been notching up personal best, after personal best in the past two years.

But there’s one small problem. He is short on funds for training and equipment.

Luckily for the him, cause-related crowd-funding site Ketto Online Ventures (Ketto) has launched a new campaign to give him a little boost. The campaign ‘Send Shiva to the Winter Olympics 2014’ is targeting raising Rs 10 lakh. Half of the Rs. 10 lakh will go towards procuring a luge (the sled used by lugers) and the remaining Rs. 5 lakh will be used for his training. On the Ketto campaign page Shiva Keshavan leans on the words Mahatma Gandhi, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” to try and explain his journey of 17 years, as a luge athlete representing India.

Keshavan, is the only Indian athlete to participate in the Winter Olympics four times consecutively, and has been doing since he was 16 years old. “As I prepare for my 5th participation at the Olympic Winter Games, I envision India achieving results on a world stage. Towards this vision, I hope and am working to bring more medals for India. I cannot do this alone. I need you, and every other Indian to be a part of this mission. Come join this campaign. Every little counts,” appeals Keshavan. Keshavan’s quest is being supported by the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), a not-for-profit foundation, founded by Geet Sethi and Prakash Padukone.

Sethi, was inspired to start OGQ after he witnessed the problems faced by fellow athletes and the shortcomings of the Indian sporting administrative system. The idea fructified in Geet’s mind on a flight from Sydney to Mumbai after the Sydney Olympics in 2000, post which he managed to convince Padukone to join him in his quest. Sethi and Padukone understood that athletes needed physiotherapists, dietitians, mental trainers, coaches, injury management experts and logistic managers to hit peak performance. OGQ is supported by corporate honchos like Niraj Bajaj, Shitin Desai, R. Ramaraj, Rakesh Khanna and Neeraj Bharadwaj. OGQ provides India’s top athletes like Gagan Narang, Saina Nehwal, and Mary Kom with training, coaching and preparation support. The foundation has already tasted success.

In the 2012 London Olympics OGQ-supported athletes – Mary, Vijay, Saina and Gagan – picked up a medal each. The target for the 2016 Olympics to be held at Rio is to double the count to eight medals. Given Keshavan’s current form, he’s one of the medal hopefuls. Viren Rasquinha, former hockey captain of India, who is OGQ’s current CEO, reached out to Ketto’s co-founder and CEO Varun Sheth.

“OGQ wanted to know whether we could host it on Ketto. We researched Keshavan and the potential to raise Rs 10 lakh, his cause of wanting to be the first Indian to win a Winter Olympics medal resonated with us and fit in perfectly with the Ketto philosophy. Money is always going to cricket, we want to be able to change that and support a sport like Luge and an athlete like Keshavan,” says Sheth. The campaign that was started on Diwali day on November 3rd will run till January 1st, 2014. At the time of this article being published, the campaign had reached 7.83 per cent of the target, with Rs. 78, 257 mopped up.

In addition to seeking donations from individual donors, Sheth and Rasquinha are talking to corporate brands, to lend a helping hand. “We are talking to brands to play the role of a matching donor, so if we raise Rs. 5 lakh, we will still reach the Rs. 10 lakh target because the corporate will match the amount with another Rs. 5 lakh. We are close to signing up with one brand and should make an announcement soon. OGQ are also talking to a few brands. We are hopeful,” remarks Sheth.

The company that signs on to be a matching donor will receive branding and sponsorship benefits. Keshavan will sport the logo of the brand on his kit at next month’s World Championship and at the Olympics, it will appear on his training kit (individual sponsor branding is banned on personal kits in the Olympics). In addition, OGQ’s CEO Rasquinha, a professional motivational speaker, will also give a free talk at the company that promises sponsorship. Want to help Keshavan in his quest to become the first Indian athlete to win a medal in a Winter Olympics? Click here


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