Shiva Keshavan, India's five-time Olympic luger, has begun his preparations for Pyeongchang 2018 with the appointment of his first ever personal coach.
Former United States luge team technical director, Olympian and World Cup medallist Duncan Kennedy will be leading the 33-year-old, who has won all of his nation's six international winter sport medals, to the upcoming international luge circuit that will see him compete in three World Cups.
Keshavan's most important competition this season will be the Asian Championships in Nagano, Japan, in December, where he will aim to claim the gold medal after settling for silver behind Japan's Hidenari Kanayama at last year's edition of the continental event.
He will, however, miss five World Cup berths this season, which is due to culminate with the World Championships in Sigulda, Latvia, in February, due to a lack of funding from the Indian Government for winter sports.
Although the Sports Ministry has yet to announce whether it will support Keshavan financially, the Indian luge team is planning for the next four years with help from the New York-based Clarkson University to improve equipment design.
Keshavan is also supported by a team of Indian engineers, who are manufacturing certain precision components to shave off the 0.8 seconds needed for an Olympic gold.
"We want to achieve a 'made in India' sled to showcase our technological capability," he said from Lake Placid, where he is currently undergoing training with Kennedy at the Olympic Training Centre and Luge Track.
"For that we are looking for collaborations from some of India's top technology and manufacturing firms.
"There are three fundamental requirements for us to convert our existing Asian accomplishments to world and Olympic levels: adequate training and exposure to competition, expert and dedicated coaching and cutting edge technology in the equipment."
Meanwhile, Keshavan is hoping the Sports Ministry releases funds to him following a financial support application made this August.
"If a five-time Olympian, two-time Asian champion, with six international medals in his kitty, has to beg the Government for funds each year, there is something really wrong in our system and it needs to be seriously looked into," he added.
India's National Sports Development Fund recently created the Towards Olympic Podium Scheme that aims to help prospective medal winners for Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.
Support for winter Olympians has yet to be mentioned, however.
Contact the writer of this story at emily.go[email protected]
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