Friday, November 5, 2010

A Beginning of End For Champions ?

While the world over is busy celebrating the Diwali, the festival of lights, I sit here thinking about what seemed to be "unthinkables" in the world of sport.

Brought up on a heavy diet of sport at home ( largely thanks to the parents who never asked me not to follow sport ), I measured my initial years of my life marking with the events in sport.

World Cup Cricket victory ( when I was too young to realize the importance ), Ravi Shastri's Audi winning moments, Becker's glory days in Wimbeldon, Maradona's Hand Of God Goal, P T Usha's near miss in LA Olympics, Anand's meteroic rise to being the first Grand Master at the game that was originated in India.

Acrobatic Becker who thrilled us in 80s and 90s
The memories became too close to heart once the golden generation of Indian sport came alive and thankfully still continuing - Fab Five in Indian Cricket making India win everywhere, Anand still being the World No. 1 , Bindra/Narang combination in Shooting, Paes and Bhupathi slowly giving way to Devvarman and Bopanna, Saina inching to the top ( unlike the other close namesake who was perhaps more of a hype(?) ).

Fab Five in an illustration

Now, expanding the view of sport a little wide and talking about a few champions that seem to be fast fading..When some one wins every single day against any opposition, the game loses the aura of being full of uncertainities. Having said that, the game does get great champions all the time.

Australian Cricket team used to be the World Number 1 by a LONG distance for quite a while before an Arrogant Bengali decided to give it back to them with a team that believed in itself. Still, the force with which the Aussies are going down now makes us wonder ( 7th straight loss compared to 18 straight wins at one time) if they are a Blue Stock Company's stock that is suddenly without buyers. Sri Lanka became the first Asian team to beat Aussies in their backyard in a few decades. Unless the "Phoenix" Act happens and happens fast, this team will go down very soon.

World Cup Winning Squad of Aussies

Tiger Woods has been a champion and won loads of Masters and did so at an age when people still try to be playing with a handicap of 20. He had it all covered as far as sport is concerned. But the personal events in his life made him lose his focus and now he is trying to be back - but he did lose his invincibility.

Woods in his Happy Winning Days

Federer is another glorious champion who ruled over all courts and all rivals for a number of years. He still has the maximum Grand Slams and might still retire as the Greatest ever with the largest collection of 'slams.

He has gone without a title for the first time this year till October ! It surely is unthinkable for a man of his ability, did he suddenly lose his great skills ? NO - it is just that folks on the opposite court now think he is beatable. That is making them compete with him and actually win matches against him.

Federer with one of his 14th Grand Slams

The sport is a great leveler and so is life, no one can stay at top forever. The passing of baton happens to the next generation and unless the transition is smooth, there will be a few loose ends till the new kids on the block learn to crawl, walk and then run !

Only the time would tell us if the folks we briefly talked about would make a dramatic comeback...for the sports lovers' sake, let's hope so !

- Pavan


  1. I like the way you presented your random thoughts on sports and especially the way you concluded. No one can be at top forever in whatever they do, may be they can compete if they show the same degree of passion until they call it a day.

  2. Great Article. All good things must come to an end. As is commanded in the Bhagavad-gita by Sri Krishna, the end is in union with the true identity, Krishna, the reservoir of pleasure and eternal bliss. There, indeed, is the true happiness for which we are intended.
    These guys have given immense pleasure to the fans.Cant classify all of them as rolemodels though...Look forward to more such articles...

  3. Nice perspective! No one is invincible in sport, and the same in life. Many a sportsman is led to achieve because they were the first to defeat the undefeatable, as every 'true great' steps aside a new star is born. We are all remembered by the things we leave behind, the foundations we set for the future.

  4. good article.very good examples given. all of them (in examples) have shown that they are Human after all.

    all good things must is the legacy that they leave behind will determine their place in History.

    Every generation needs its own heros..we have Sachin ..the new generation has ??.

  5. Good one Pavan....leaders leave a trail behind to follow...their place is always respected.....greatest lessons of today are examples of past.....
    It wud be interesting to see come back of Tiger woods...

  6. Good one...I guess every one has a shelf life & in an individual sport, you will have the energetic next gen guys who will eventually catch-up & get better.

    In the case of Aussies, they had their Fab-five (Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Hayden, Waugh) who made them invinsible...Its not easy to have a pipeline ready to fill into those big void created. I am sure when our top three now (Sachin, Rahul, Laxman) call it a day in test cricket, it will not be easy to fill that void, unless their retirement is stagerred...Hopefully, the Raina's, Kohli's will raise to the ocassion when that happens.

    So, there is a lesson for corporates/teams in the world to groom the next level of leadership and be ready when there is a void at the top.