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Winter Olympics: Indian team in mismatched uniforms

February 13, 2010 20:10 IST

How could Indian athletes be sent to participate in the Winter Olympic that opened in Vancouver with mismatched uniforms. 

A local sporting goods manufacturer donated fresh uniforms that the Indian athletes wore at the opening ceremonies at the BC Place on Friday night.

2010 Winter OlympicsAnd the saddest part for India must have been, at least it's for the large Indo-Canadian community, that this news was on the front page of the Globe and Mail on Frday and the plight of the Indian athletes was part of the CTV commentary as the three Indian athletes, their manager and 2 coaches passed by with Shiva Keshavan, 28, Luge Olympian, waived the Indian national flag and led the Indian team.

'The uniforms supplied to the athletes and their coaches for the opening ceremony were mismatched and in poor condition,' the Canadian daily reported.

But the local Indo-Canadian community in Greater Vancouver 'are rallying around Mr. Keshavan and the two skiers who made up India's tiny Winter Olympic team.

They organized a fund raising event and raised $8,000 for the Indian athletes, the money that they will reportedly use for their 'new equipment, future training and spending money while in Vancouver.'    

'India's Winter Olympic team faced considerable challenges just to make it to here (Vancouver). Keshavan (youngest ever Luge Olympian, who has  competed in 3 earlier Winter Olympics) broke both a bone in his back and his only sled in a nasty crash less than two months ago.

'It's the first time we are participating in a place that has such a large Indian population … to feel this kind of support from our community on the other side of the world from India,' Keshavan  is quoted as saying.  'It is such a great feeling.'

He said he and his teammates have been embraced since arriving in British Columbia to prepare for their events.

Keshavan is Luge Olympian. Sadly for him in an accident two months back he broke his back and only sled.

For the first time, he received some funding from the Indian government but it was reportedly due to the help from  a group of Indian lawyers that Keshavan could buy a new sled for $15,000.

Keshavan conceded 'the organization has been very bad. Some people had some uniforms, other people had other uniforms. 

There was no uniform uniform' and with the help of a local friend (and the local sporting goods  manufacturer) that the Indian athletes, coaches and a manager wore proper uniform as they walked passed inside BC Place at the opening ceremonies with over 3 billion people around the world watching on their TV sets. And the CTV detailed this story loudly as the background commentary on the woo of the India's tiny team.

Keshavan first participated in the Nagano Winter Olympic when he was 16, and youngest ever Luge Olympian at that time. He was India's sole representative at Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in 2002 and Olympian Winter Games in Torino in 2006.

He's winner of the Asian Bronze Medal, Asian Championships in Nagano 2008-09 and in January 2009 he was placed 14th at the Nations Cup in Altenberg. 

Other two Indian athletes participating in Vancouver games are  Alpine Skiers – Tashi Lundup and Jamyang Namgial. Both are from the Indian arm.

They both attained the norms at the Turkey qualifiers March last year when the only Indian woman participant Bhuvaneshwari from Himachal lost the chance.

Photograph: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen watching the opening ceremonies at BC Place in Vancouver

Ajit Jain in Toronto