I have hounded a lot of sports, and people from a lot of countries. The other night, I obtained my first ever luge autograph, and my first ever autograph from someone born in India. I did both at the exact same time.
Indian luger Shiva Keshavan came thru & a small pile of media were eager to greet him, get some photos & interviews. Not knowing anything about his sport, or him, I was fascinated by the excitement of the mainly south Asian reporters who were even getting posed pictures with him afterwards.
I got him to to sign a couple Olympics postcards, just to say I got him, then went on my way looking for more athletes. I came back a few minutes later & saw he was still there, so I took the chance to snap a few pics of him before I left.
Afterwards I was more amazed to hear about the incredible journey recently for Keshevan (whose full name on the Olympic site is Shiva Keshevan Kannan Palan) just getting here. Just weeks ago he fractured a vertebrae in his back (as someone who fractured multiple vertebrae himself when he was younger, I know what an ordeal that can be) & was told by the doctors "dont race", but he told them this is what he had worked for the 4 years & was not going to miss it for anything. So he came, with a new sled as well. Another hurdle he overcame to get here was breaking his last sled recently. But thanks to the help of a few lawyers from his homeland who pooled the money together to get a new one for Shiva, he is in Vancouver & ready to compete. One of only 3 Olympians representing India at the 2010 Winter Olympic games, Shiva has been to the Olympics several times now. First competing in Nagano during the 1998 games, he was only 16 years old at the time.
I am sure at the end of the games, I will look back & think of Shiva Keshevan when people ask me if I got anyone interesting during the Olympics, because I am pretty confident I will never get an Indian luger autograph again.
On Tuesday the city of Vancouver had one of the biggest names in the winter sports world arrive, Lindsey Vonn, the supermodel looking superskiing star from the U.S. arrived to a throng of media, fans & autograph collectors all hoping for a moment of her time.
While Ms. Vonn was extremely classy is taking the time to sign autographs, much to the detest & constant pleading of her handlers not to, I found it interesting that she did not take much time to talk with the media themselves. Perhaps she found them to be too aggressive, as it was noted by multiple people there that the NBC team were physically pushing & pulling fans & other media members out fo the way to try & get their own shot. If I were Ms. Vonn, I too would have evaded any talk time with the American Olympic broadcaster.
Today it came out that Lindsey is suffering from a serious shin bruise & her Olympics is even in jeopardy because of it. perhaps this was part of what prevented her from wanting to stand around & do interviews?
What was clear from this breif encounter with her is that she was all class with the fans & autograph collectors there. Not leaving a single request hanging for a signature on any item, including brand new fresh off the shelf Sports Illustrated swimsuit poses.
So far these Olympics I have seen many athletes, most of which have been complete class, but Ms. Vonn really won me over considering the demand on her time, the insistence of signing despite her staff telling her not to sign & even physically pushing autograph collectors away from the 4 ft high glass rail securely seperating them from Ms. Vonn anyways. When you add that up with the injury shes working thru & the pressures of being expected to perform up here for the Winter Olympics, she really is a class act.
I hope for the sake of the Olympics & Lindsey, she can go in her events. The staff that Team USA employs, the station broadcasting the games for Americans might all be full of asses, but at least the athletes are still class acts.
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