Pernilla Wiberg Bjerke and Shiva Keshavan reveal Athletes' Village life

11 | 2 | 2014

Double Olympic Gold Medallist, Pernilla Wiberg Bjerke, and five time luge Olympian, Shiva Keshavan, were the stars of the show at the hugely successful WOA lunch in Sochi. The packed room at the IOC Olympic Club in the Olympic Park heard about what life was really like for a Winter Olympian in the Athletes' Village and an Olympic city.

Shiva said, "At my first Games I was a wide-eyed young boy from a country with no Winter Games experience and I was our only athlete. I was very shy to start with but the other Olympians soon put me at ease and welcomed me with open arms, even if some of them wondered how someone from a hot country like India could take part in winter sport.

"I had to explain that we did have snow in the Himalayas where I live. I didn't know a thing about the Olympic Games or competition at that level but the Olympians were all so helpful and supportive that I began to understand what the Olympic spirit was all about."

For Pernilla it was a different story, coming from Sweden, a traditional winter sport country where success is expected. "There was huge pressure to win a medal, especially as we have a strong, but very friendly, rivalry with Norway. Being in the Village with athletes from all different countries was a great experience, but I couldn't really relax until I had won that medal. After that I could really enjoy the company of the other Olympians and the special atmosphere of the Olympic Games," said Pernilla.

The relaxed and informal Q and A with Pernilla and Shiva was the main event of the lunch which gave Olympians of different eras and countries the opportunity to mingle and chat with other Olympians, IOC TOP Sponsors, IOC Members and Olympic Family Members. Peruvian Olympian and WOA Secretary General, Anthony Ledgard, kicked off the afternoon in English and Spanish, three time winter Olympian and WOA Treasurer, Patrick Singleton from Bermuda, introduced the guest speakers and WOA President, Joël Bouzou, reminded the capacity crowd that the WOA was at its best when Olympians worked together to help each other and those in need in their communities.