“Anyone can dabble, but once you have made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it and it is very hard for people to stop you,” said Bill Cosby.
Dedication and commitment are two very important things when it comes to any sport. It is the life blood of sport. It is what results in “Excellence.” It is what makes the player worthy of the sport. There are a lot of players in India who have excelled at their chosen sport but there are very few people who were so dedicated that they were unable to think of a life beyond sports. Sports was their existence and they needed it to survive. So deep rooted was their commitment to the sport that they continued to be associated with it even after their retirement.
The Usha charm
The woman who took the nation by surprise with her gutsy and fierce attitude, P T Usha has continued to contribute towards the field of athletics even after her retirement. She has taken up the role of a coach and a mentor in churning out top athletes for the nation. Since her Kottayam race in 1977, she has come a long way in making a mark for herself in the field of athletics, both on and off field. She is currently training Tintu Luka and Jessy Joseph. They are under her personal care and have already started showing signs of coming out on the top.
The world beneath his feet: Gopichand
Gopichand is one of the most lethal badminton players of India. At the time of his peak (2001), he won the All England Open Badminton Championship. He realized that at that time there were hardly any quality badminton players after him. He wanted to give opportunities and hold competitions for a lot of youngsters in India who, if trained well would be great assets in badminton. Having this in mind, he started the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad. He has produced few of the top badminton players from across India: Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap, to name a few. He is one of the most dedicated sports personalities that the country has produced. He remains in the backdrop and ensures that his students are well trained and are ready to take on competitions with a steadfast attitude.
The humble cricketer: Venkataraghavan
A cricketer regarded with great reverence, Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan was known for his commitment to the game. He approached the game with fervent appreciation and he played cricket for a period longer than any other Indian player. Post retirement, he became an umpire, unable to let go of the sport. He soon joined the Elite International Cricket Council Test Panel. He has officiated 73 Tests and 52 ODIs during his 11 year-long umpiring career.
The Dipankar effect
Dipankar Bhattacharjee was an exceptional badminton player from the North-Eastern state of Assam and was the reigning champion while Gopichand was ranked number two in the sport. He has represented India in two Olympics (Barcelona and Atlanta) and made the nation proud by winning the National Badminton Championship three times. He is currently involved in opening his own badminton academy in Guwahati to train youngsters and upcoming players and give them the right platform for a good sporting career.
The multi tasker: Vijay Amritraj
Vijay Amritraj revolutionized Indian Tennis with his easy going nature and his keenness to achieve. He has made India proud on several occasions, representing the nation in numerous Grand slams. He continued to be involved in the field of tennis by becoming the commentator for ESPN Start Sports post his retirement. He, along with Alan Wilkins made an exciting pair, commentating on all important tennis matches.
Extremely lean and incredibly agile: Sivaramakrishnan
Extremely lean and incredibly agile, Lakshman Sivaramakrishnan was known for his googly and his commentary. He, rose to fame as a result of his incredible performance in Australia during the World Championship of cricket by returning as the leading wicket taker. Post retirement, he took to commentating and was a natural at it. His loud and cheerful voice is in stark contrast to his lean feature. “Looks can be deceptive,” aptly applies to him, what with his aggressive commentary and well thought out analysis of games. He was recently made the players’ representative on the International Cricket Council’s cricket committee.
Negi’s hockey phenomenon
Ranjan Negi recently rose to limelight after the controversy over Chak De India due to which there is a common misconception that Kabir Khan’s life story was Ranjan Negi’s. It is well known that Negi was one of India’s finest goal keepers but what most of the people are unaware of is the fact that he was also one of the best goal keeping coaches India has had, having helped both the men’s and the women’s team win the 1998 Asian Games and 2002 Commonwealth Games respectively.