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Indian luger pleasantly shocked by reaction to national flag return to Olympics

February 12, 2014, 9:12 UTC+3 SOCHI

The Indian athletes entered the Winter Olympics without acknowledgement of their home nation

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SOCHI, February 12. /ITAR-TASS/. Indian athletes have not expected such a stormy welcome from other athletes, media and fans to the International Olympic Committee’s decision to lift the suspension of India’s Olympic Committee allowing Indian athletes to compete under their national flag, Indian luger Shiva Keshavan told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

“This is unbelievable news,” said the athlete who finished 37th in the singles luge at the Sochi Olympic Games. “We had been waiting for that very long, 18 months, and it is a great piece of luck to see this happen in the long run. Now two of my friends will be able to compete in Sochi under their national flag,” the luger said.

After the Indian Olympic Committee had been disqualified, Keshavan competed under the Olympic flag in Sochi. However, other Indian athletes - Alpine skier Himanshu Thakur and skier Nadeem Iqbal, have not performed as of yet. Keshavan said their accreditations had been re-issued. “Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow the Indian flag will be hoisted in the Olympic village, which is very pleasant. I have spoken to Hismanshu and Nadeem, they are very happy and look forward to their starts,” he added.

The luger said however that he was a bit upset, as if the IOC had made its decision to lift the suspension two days earlier, he could have competed as a full-fledged representative of India. “Of course, it is a bit sad that the decision had not been taken earlier,” he regretted, expressing confidence that a new administration of the Indian Olympic Committee would do all to avoid its disqualification in the future.

The 33-year-old athlete said he had been pleasantly shocked by such a stormy reaction by the media and fans. “Everybody was congratulating us. Complete strangers were coming over, patting us on the shoulders and saying good words. This is much unexpected and very pleasant,” he told Itar-Tass.

The luger sounded a bit upset that he would not be able to take part in the Olympics closing ceremony. He said he had already booked a plane ticket for February 17, as he had not known India would have its national flag back. He said he would never forget Russia and Sochi where magnificent Olympic Games were taking place. “Everything here is excellent without exaggeration, from the beginning to the end,” he said.

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