Guiding lights behind our sports stars

first_imgSuccess has many fathers and failure none is an old cliche. However, if one were to go beyond this and look into the success of Indian athletes who are gunning for Olympic glory, it’s clear the role played by their families is huge.Sports View by S. Kannan.The other day when world chess champion Viswanathan Anand was in the Capital, he spoke of how he had a strong feeling the Indians would do well in the London Olympics. When we say ‘well’, the immediate question is how many medals we can win!First things first, unlike China, we are not a socialist state where by the age of six or seven the boy or girl is taken away from home and put in an extremely demanding sports training centre.By the time the Chinese athlete is in his or her late teens, he or she has to become a champion at least at the Asian level. In India, even as we debate the roles played by the state and central governments and how the corporates are also willing to chip in today, it’s the parents or the immediate family members who have played a huge role in shaping the careers of athletes.Let’s take a look at the Indian contingent for the London Games. Some of the biggest stars who have done well on the big stage owe their success to the lessons in motivation from home. The list has to begin with Leander Paes, the country’s first individual Olympic medallist after KD Jadhav. The Atlanta Games bronze medallist wanted to be a football player, but it was dad Vece Paes who ensured the son took to an individual sport. I have seen in 1990, after Vece pulled Leander out of Vijay Amritraj’s BAT academy, how he struggled for sponsorship and funds.advertisementHad Dad Paes given up then, Leander would never have gone on to achieve glory at the highest levels. While Vece had the sporting background and what it takes to win at the higher levels, many other parents never had such a good understanding.Sania Mirza’s parents Imran and Nassema made many sacrifices to ensure her tennis career flourished.Even as the Leander Paes vs Mahesh Bhupathi controversy cools down, the success story of Mahesh is also one where the parents played big roles. In the desert heat of Oman, CGK Bhupathi and mother Meera ensured Mahesh picked up the basics of tennis well.It was their passion to see Mahesh shape up as a good tennis player which resulted in the NRI moving to the United States to hone his skills. Once he did well in the NCAA league, he had to take a call on whether to play college or turn pro. The results from Mahesh are now there to see.If one is to take a look at the prime example of a tennis player taking up the sport due to the sheer perseverance of the parents, it has to be Sania Mirza. From the age of six, Imran and Naseema Mirza drove their daughter around in an Ambassador car. Mind you, those were the days when you had no air conditioners in cars and travel stretched to hundreds of kilometres in south India for Sania to play tennis tournaments. The sacrifice and effort behind shaping up Sania’s career continues for the Mirzas, though people will talk with sarcasm because the mother has been named manager of the Indian team for the Olympics.At least, it’s better than some obscure official, who has no clue of tennis, being made the manager as he will fetch the All India Tennis Association a vote or two in their elections. As for the success story of Saina Nehwal, again it’s a case of parents putting their heart and soul into the efforts. Imagine, coming from a science background in agriculture in Haryana and not knowing much about badminton.Yet, the burning ambition for the Nehwals – Harvir and Usha – to ensure Saina did well as a badminton player, forced them shift cities and make Hyderabad their home. The infrastructure was good and the Nehwals knew this was the city where Saina could get the best grounding from an assortment of coaches.Abhinav Bindra with father AS Bindra.And what of India’s biggest Olympic champion – Abhinav Bindra? As one who saw the shooting range for the first time at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, dad AS Bindra drilled it into his son’s head that he could also become a champion. In less than four years, Abhinav was shooting for India in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and again in Athens 2004. The big moment came in Beijing 2008. Had it not been for the motivation from Abhinav’s entire family, he may have never made it so big.People say that as he comes from a rich background, with his own indoor, air-conditioned range in Chandigarh, training was easy. Heck, even if you have that kind of money, you still need to shoot for hours to achieve perfection.advertisementToday, everyone is asking if Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Sushil can again wrestle his way to a medal. Just look at the background he comes from.His father Diwan Singh has spent a major portion of his life working as a driver in MTNL and leaving son Sushil in the Chhatrasal Stadium. Diwan Singh would have never known what it takes to win medals on the world stage or the Olympics.But it is the push from the father and faith in his son that today he makes us all proud each time he represents India.One look at the boxing squad, and you can see there are many more stories of how boxers have arrived on the big stage against all odds. Hot contender Shiva Thapa’s father was aware he had to put his children into boxing and make them champions one day.As a qualified karate instructor, Padam Thapa bought son Shiva a punching bag at home. The journey began from there and today the dashing boxer is a hot medal prospect. The cases of Vikas Krishan and Manoj Kumar are also equally captivating. Vikas comes from a humble background and his father Krishan Kumar works as a clerk in the Haryana State Electricity Board.Despite the humble background, the family dreamt big and ensured Vikas would enjoy boxing to the hilt and one day make it big. As for Vikas, his brother Rajesh Kumar would take the boy for lessons in punching on a cycle. Had it not been for his effort and belief that his brother would punch with felicity, Vikas may have never become one of the 81 athletes who will represent India in London.In India, the sporting culture is still not strong, so we need to salute the families which have produced these [email protected]last_img

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