We often come across inspirational stories in the world of sports, which may be in the form of interviews or planned sessions, but a story cropping out of an auto ride is one of the most unexpected gifts a sports journalist will ever receive. Scroll.In’s Vinayakk Mohanarangan witnessed such a phenomenon when he boarded Vijaya Kumar’s auto in Chennai in a day which was also co-incidentally the ninth day of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games!
While our friend Vinayakk received a phone call during which he discussed India’s outing at the Commonwealth Games that day, Vijaya Kumar took a rather keen interest in the phone call and enquired about how the Indian paddler’s fared at the Games that day. It was only after both of them lauded local boys’ Achanta Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan’s brilliance ‘Down Under’ that the passenger came to know Vijaya was a father of two, a son and a daughter who are both budding prospects of Indian Table Tennis.
The proud father informed about the achievements of his children and how he along with his wife Amudha braved many difficulties to keep Malesh Vaishnavi’s hopes alive. The struggle the couple copes up is no less than an inspiring story itself! Both the youngster’s used to train at Chandra’s Table Tennis Academy in Chennai, which is run by V. Chandrasekhar, one of the finest talents the country has ever seen! Although Vaishali now trains at the Vin-Win Academy, run by G Vinod and Aishwarya Vinod in SBOA School and Junior College. But maintaining proper equipment and attending tournaments at regular intervals comes at a cost, but, in spite of financial constraints, the couple left no stones unturned to prolong the careers of two of their most precious possessions, Vaishnavi and Malesh!
‘I have to spend Rs 33,000 to get my son and daughter new wood and rubber. Their game is good but they are not going further because they don’t have the right equipment. If only I worked in a bank or something…’ complained a dejected Vijaya Kumar.
Sharath Kamal, who has been the face of Indian Table Tennis for the past decade is the one who the brother-sister looks up to. 18-year old Malesh still aspires to follow the footsteps of Sharath and represent the tri-colour at the Olympics in the future!
Table Tennis a very popular sport in the country and South India is the main hub of the sport. Maharashtra and West Bengal is also known for its Table Tennis culture. Although Table Tennis has largely been in the shadows of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Badminton and Tennis, the performance of the paddlers in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games has forced the common folk to take interest in the game.
It’s been 10 years that the duo started playing Table Tennis at Chandra’s academy and since then both of them has shown remarkable growth in their form. Winning numerous tournaments at State level, their residence in Arumbakkam is flooded with trophies. There are so many trophies that there is not enough space to display all of them inside their apartment!
The main objective of the Kumar’s is to attend each and every State-ranking tournament troughout the State but the pocket pinch often hinders from doing so. Apart from that, maintaining proper equipment is an added burden for the family. There have been instances where Amudha, the courageous mother would book a ticket and board the train to attend a tournament without any extra cash in hand. To meet the added expenditures, Viajaya would work extra hours and send money to their account just in time when they reached the venue.
Both of them are hard-working kids who are eager to excel in their careers and emerge as successful paddlers. Maybe a few years down the line, both of them will be seen participating in big-ticket International tournaments and everyone will appreciate their achievements, but equal credit should also be given to the Mr And Mrs Kumar who sacrificed everything and devoted their lives for the sake of the game!
Our friend Vinayakk was lucky enough to board Vijaya Kumar’s auto on Friday, the 13th and came to know about the inspiring story. But there are several other cases like these which do not get highlighted due to the lack of exposure and recognition. In fact, raw talents are thriving in all the little corners of our nation, but they need the extra punch to get the attention of the world. There are several Viajaya Kumar’s who are still waiting to narrate their tales!
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Had the most serendipitous auto ride. Was on the phone talking to a friend about the medals India have won and how on Saturday the TT players could bring more. (1/n)
— Vinayakk (@vinayakkm) April 13, 2018