Indian sports has always been about cricket. Since the time India won the world cup in 1983, Indian sports scene has been dominated by cricket. It enjoys largest fan base and highest money flow and sponsorship when compared to other sports in India. The difference is so huge that even comparing them isn’t worth it. It is unfortunate that our national game Hockey went down the drain around the same time. Sportsmen from other fields rarely get their due. Viswanathan Anand is one such sportsman, brilliant chess player, and undisputed world champion but rarely gets the attention he deserves. Lots of my friends don’t even consider chess as a sport which is quite ridiculous. Chess is very much a sport and we have a player who is damn good at the same.
Even though a common man might not place him in the same bracket as a Sachin Tendulkar, the government of India does though. He was the first sportsman to receive Padma Vibhushan (India’s second highest civilian honor) before Sachin received the same one year later. We all know the status the cricketers have in India but I feel that sportsmen from other fields should get similar coverage to encourage others to take up such sport.
India needs heroes from other fields to be projected much better in the media for the people to recognize their achievements. Viswanathan Anand became the first player in the chess history to win the world championship in all three formats (Knockout, tournament and Match). You don’t have to be a chess enthusiast to appreciate an icon in Indian sports.
Anand has been an undisputed world champion for the past 4 years and also has won the chess Oscars 7 times in his career. Not many people know that. He is a brilliant role model for the youth with his modest and down to earth personality. Fantastic in what he does, his achievements are just known to the chess lovers across the country and not to the common sports fans. For a normal sports fan anything which does not involve running around on an open field is not a sport.
When I was talking to my friends over lunch they completely dismissed any sort of recognition to this brilliant champion ahead of Sachin Tendulkar. I am a Sachin fan myself but not oblivious to the achievements of other sporting icons in the country. I am no Chess fan and would not sit through an entire game but for sure respect the laurels this man has brought to our country.
So this is my salute to one of the brilliant sportsmen from India to compete on the world stage. I hope that Vishy Anand breaks more records and remains the best player in the world for many years to come.