Drives the Champion
Don't go into something to test the waters, go
into things to make waves.
seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own
talents – Eric Hoffer.
Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except
by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to
Achievers thrive on passion. Their insatiable
desire to excel is so great that it envelops their mind, transporting them into
a world where nothing else exists, except their objective. In order to achieve
their goal, they are willing to forgo a lot of what this world has to offer.
Their obsession with their ultimate target clouds their senses, making
everything else seem hazy and immaterial, but their purpose.
When a champion is going through such a stage in
his life the world waits with bated breath, for the extra-ordinary is about to
be unveiled by him/her. And then….the ease with which the final product is
delivered, it appears that the outstanding performer was born to do just that.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Think Roger Federer, Tiger Woods,
Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mike Russell and even our very own Geet
Sethi, to name a few legends, and all one can think of is the effortlessness
with which they execute their art. Each performance of theirs seems like it is
played out to perfection, and even in their rare defeats the greatness of the
artiste shines through. To the outside world they appear to be well-oiled
machines going about their job with mechanical consistency.
All this was not achieved overnight and certainly
not without the usual grind. We have all seen their grace and grandeur when
going through an event and walking away with the winner’s cup, without breaking
into a sweat. But what we have not seen is the blood, sweat and tears that oozed
out of every pore of their body when they were toiling through day and night
attempting to improve their yesterdays. What we did not see is the intense
desire in their heart that fuels every act of theirs; the never-say-die attitude
that pulled them through every exhausting day and the yearning in their eyes,
every time the thought of the ultimate prize crossed their minds. That my
friends, is what an athlete goes through before the world can label him a
Most, if not all snooker players have heard of
James Wattana, the Thailand wonder-boy who shot onto the scene like an Asian
storm, who did more than just ruffle the feathers of the British dominated
Snooker scene. ‘Thai-phoon’, as he was nick-named did not just take a flight out
of Bangkok, challenged the Davises or the Hendrys of the world and go on to
become World No. 3.
His entry was quite different. In fact the first
time, I heard about this wonder-kid, it was at Hastings, UK, where I had gone to
play the inaugural World Junior Championships. It was an open event then and all
could participate. Wattana was a first round casualty, losing 0-3 to some
English kid. When I went to meet him, he sat sulking in one corner, refusing to
even pose for a photograph. We had a few meetings on the table after that, with
honours shared, and we went on to become good friends.
However the Wattana of 1988 is who I wish to
present in my story. Geet Sethi and your truly were representing India in the
Sydney World Championship, 1988, which also happened to be my first World men’s
event. Midway through the tournament, just before the knock-out stage, the
organizers had arranged for a scenic Sydney Harbour cruise
for all the players. For those of you who have not yet experienced it, it is a
From the 64 players in the draw, 63 were on board
the cruise, including the hot favourite, Martin O’ Neil, who was representing
UK. The man missing was none other than James Wattana. The story that did the
rounds was that Wattana was unwell and could not make it.
The next day, on meeting Tom Moran, Wattana’s
manager, guide and constant companion, I enquired as to why James could not make
it. Tom replied, “We are here to win
the tournament. James has been dreaming of this moment since the time he picked
up his cue. Cruises can be done even after the event. And luckily, since all the
players were away, James had the entire table to himself and he practiced for
seven hours non-stop.”
Needless to add, Wattana’s aching desire to win
paid dividends and he walked away with the title of World Champion in 1988.
And yes – Tom did take him for the Harbour Cruise
attained by great men
achieved by sudden flight
while their companions slept
toiling away in the night.
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India's ace snooker player