Shiva Keshavan: 2020 tested and scared us, but we, as a collective human force, will rise again

'My message to whoever is reading this is simple: Control the controllables. This is something that sport teaches you, and as the year 2020 has shown, it is one lesson to live by,' writes India's luge exponent Shiva Keshavan

Shiva Keshavan December 25, 2020 13:03:24 IST
Shiva Keshavan: 2020 tested and scared us, but we, as a collective human force, will rise again

It is easy to define 2020 as a bad year considering the number of restrictions we had to deal with. For me, it was an interesting year because it opened a lot of other doors, in the sense, I did things that I didn't think I'd be doing. I spent a lot of time with my family. I never thought I'd ever get that chance, so that was nice.

The year started on an unfortunate note for me as I met with a road accident before the lockdown. I rammed my car straight into a truck... it was a head-on collision, and understandably, I was pretty banged up, but we chose not to visit a hospital due to rising coronavirus cases. I healed at home using natural remedies and some physical exercises.

Staying put in one place was a big, big change for me. Before lockdown, I had never stayed at a place for more than two months at a stretch in close to 20 years. So this was a very interesting change of pace; to slow down, see things from a different perspective, and spend time with the family. I got to spend a lot of time with my daughter and wife, something that I haven't been able to do. Ever.

The downtime ensured there was nothing much to do, which meant rather than multitasking and doing too many things together, I did one thing at a time. That gave me enough time to brood over life. It also helped me concentrate better, and I was able to do significant work for my luge development programme. I wrote a lot of concept notes for the development of winter sports in India, the training of winter athletes, and so forth.

I also started an online Masters programme in Sports Management from a foreign University, and that is helping me develop a better understanding of sports administration and management in general. Not to forget, I was bestowed with the Arjuna Award and made the High-Performance Director of Luge in India, so not all that bad a year! I would like to believe that I used my time quite productively and took significant strides towards my goal of developing winter sports in India. Of course, all of us are social beings and we love to meet people, and not being able to do that was a setback, but there's always technology to make things slightly easier.

Shiva Keshavan 2020 tested and scared us but we as a collective human force will rise again

Shiva Keshavan has represented India at six Winter Olympics. Reuters/File

Having said that, a lot of plans were altered because of the pandemic. I wanted to do a lot more development work for the sport, and that requires a lot of meetings and travel, all of which took a hit.

A lot of people say that the year 2020 made them more humble and helped them appreciate life a lot more. It is such a pleasant thing to hear, because I think as a society, we had lost touch with our basics. In normal circumstances, we are so busy keeping pace with life that we forget to appreciate it, so this healing process, in an odd sense, was much needed. It was nice to see that a lot of people understood the value of mental and physical health.

Personally, I developed quite a few hobbies this year. I did a lot of mechanical work in my garden. I built sheds for the poultry that I have on my farm, besides doing a fair bit of writing (of concept notes and development plans). The entire world is pinning a lot of hopes on 2021, and I am no different. I hope the vaccine to arrive soon and the world to return to some sort of normalcy. I am also keenly looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics, and I extend my best wishes to all the athletes preparing for the Games.

My message to whoever is reading this is simple: Control the controllables. This is something that sport teaches you, and as 2020 has shown, it is one lesson to live by. It was a year for the history books that gave the world a massive scare, but I am sure we, as a collective human force, will rise again. I wish you all a Happy New Year!

(Shiva Keshavan is a six-time Winter Olympian and the only Indian to professionally compete in Luge. He is a multiple Asian champion, and is currently the coach and high-performance director for Luge in India. He spoke to Shantanu Srivastava.)

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