Tuesday, September 08, 2009

An Advani in his prime

By John Cheeran
It's not that Bangalore did not boast of worldbeaters till
Pankaj Advani came along in the 21st century. There were men and women who came up with big breaks, be it in cricket, badminton, hockey, football, athletics and tennis.
Yet, many such stars were bogged down by the inevitable mediocrity in team games and could not aspire for the tag of world champions.
Chennai has had a Vishwanthan Anand since mid-80s.
Kolkota could gloat about Leander Paes and, sniggers apart, his bronze medal in Atlanta Olympics, should compensate for his failures in singles. Mumbai produced Wilson Jones and Michael Ferreira in billiards. Hyderabad, in recent years, has had Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal and P Gopichand.
I leave out cricketers from this list for obvious reasons.
Yes, Indians have excelled as individuals in sporting arena.
Ramanathan Krishnan, Vijay Amritraj, Prakash Padukone
Geet Sethi and Anand have excelled on their own, beating
the system in the process.
Indians can always fancy their chances in non-contact sports where physical power is not the dominant and determining factor in success. That explains our decent record in chess, badminton, billiards and snooker. Once hockey turned a brutish power game, India’s grip loosened irrevocably.
In Advani's success, one can find individual effort and family support playing critical roles. Yes, he has been lucky to be in a city where he could have a great mentor in Arvind Savur and Karnataka State Billiards Association too has helped him. But what has worked in Advani's favour is the space the sport offered for improvement as an individual.
Considering that Prakash Padukone blazed a trail in 1980 by winning the All England championship, the Wimbledon of badminton, Bangalore should have produced more world champions.
Bangalore, the city, since then has rewritten many existing codes of success, especially in entrepreneurship. Anyone could list of the names of tech czars who have put Bangalore on world map but apart from cricketers are there any sports stars who tried to reach for the pie in the sky, the way Padukone did?
That makes the recent victory of Advani in professional billiards all the more important. Advani has given youngsters in the city a moment to pause and wonder. Can we dream bigger and better than this 24-year-old? How long one can crib about venal selectors and rotten politics, lack of facilities, indifferent sponsors and callous public?
It is indeed remarkable that very few, other than the family and close friends, turned out at the Bangalore International Airport to welcome home a world champion. Apparently, we are yet to cultivate a habit of recognizing heroes, the real ones, that is.


biju said...

hi John,

well written, Maybe you could write for www.badmintonbangalore.com.



johncheeran said...


John Cheeran at Blogged