‘Relating poor performance in sports to India`s population nonsense’

Mumbai: Chess Grand Master Pravin Thipsay on Tuesday said judging India`s poor performance in sports by associating it with the one billion strong population is "utter non-sense" as only a miniscule minority has access to proper sports facilities in the country.

"We need proper facilities for people to play sports. Relating everything to population is nonsense as in India though population is one billion, only 2 per cent have the opportunity to play sports," said Thipsay at the launch function of India`s first sports anthem "Cheer for Champions" on Tuesday.

The chess ace also pointed out that when Garry Kasparov became a world champion in 1985 for the first time, he was asked how Russia kept producing world champions one after the other and his answer was when 4.5 million players played the game, one of them becoming a world champion was not a surprise.

"Sports are good for health and the future of a nation. Anthem has its own merit. The key role it plays is in motivating sports people and making them behave. Anthem played before start of play is a reminder of ethics and culture of sports and helps in maintaining discipline," Thipsay said at the function organised in association with the Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai.

The sports anthem has been composed by Ranjit Bharot and sung by playback singer Javed Ali. It is being supported by former India cricket captains Dilip Vengsarkar and Anil Kumble, billiards ace Prakash Padukone and ex-national hockey and football skippers Dhanraj Pillai and I M Vijayan, respectively.

Former world billiards runner-up Devendra Joshi said he and Thipsay were from sporting disciplines which did not encourage spectators to shout and cheer during the competition.

"You have chosen two people to speak from sports where cheering is not allowed. Cheering inspires sportsmen as they know people are behind them," he said.

"It happened in Pune during the Rest of the World v India billiards Test match series in 2010 where virtually everything was allowed, including allowing spectators to talk on their cell phones and still there were a number of century breaks. I found once you get on to the table you don`t hear anything else," he said.

Joshi also praised Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani for qualifying for the China Open Snooker championships through a tough qualifying draw.

"Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani`s feat of qualifying for the China Open snooker and to make the top 32 from 700 is a great achievement. Their performance is bound to trigger a lot of interest (in the country)," he said.