New Delhi: Five-time Olympian and poster boy of winter sports in India, Shiva Keshavan has pulled out of the Luge World Championships in Germany and Luge World Cup circuit due to "lack of funds".
"India will be conspicuous in its absence in the Luge World Championships and the Luge World Cup circuit for the first time in 20 years. This is because the Indian team has pulled out of the remainder of the international circuit because it has not been funded," a statement issued on behalf of Keshavan said.
The 34-year-old luger said he has written to Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their intervention.
The World Luge Championships is scheduled to be held later this month. He has also been forced to let go off the services of his coach Duncan Kennedy.
Keshavan recently won a silver medal at the Asian Luge Championships. He also has two gold medals in the Asia Cup and was the first Indian to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
The luger said that his coach Kennedy decided to quit as he has not been paid his full salary in 2015.
"With no favourable response despite the podium finish in his previous race, Shiva has been forced to cut his season short," the statement added.
Kennedy, a holder of 21 world titles and former technical director of the USA luge team, had begun working with Shiva in 2014 and strongly believed that the Indian team had the ability to bring more laurels to the country.
"I am amazed and surprised at how a country like India cannot come up with money to pay the expenses of a five-time Olympian. Shiva is such a great ambassador for India. His dedication to his country and his sport, his international performance and his conduct has brought India much glory and admiration wherever he has taken the Indian flag. I already knew some of the difficulties Indian athletes face due to funding, but no professional coach can work without being paid," Kennedy said.