There are things that are surreal and then there are things that are beyond explanation. Let me tell you the surreal bit first. There exists an Indian sportsman who has been winning world titles since the early nineties. This sportsman has won the highest number of world championships in the world, in his discipline. He won his first world title in his twenties and then won his eighth title at the ripe old age of 43. He has set world records galore. He is also an Asian games gold medalist for
Now for something that is beyond explanation. A country that starves for its sportsmen to succeed does not bother to felicitate the greatest and winningest (pardon the incorrect English) sportsman it has ever produced. A man who has been bringing glory to his sport for nearly two decades. A man who is
People probably would say that Geet Sethi is not the greatest sportsman that
The second point is that most people of our generation know billiards because of Geet Sethi. Sachin or Kapil, had they not played cricket people would still have been crazy about it. Players like Geet Sethi have had an impact on the sport they play in for years. Sethi’s impact has been felt for nearly two decades. I can safely say that had Geet Sethi decided to be a corporate executive, people after Michael Ferreira’s era would not have known anything about billiards, and unless Pankaj Advani comes up in a big way the generation after ours wouldn’t talk of it either. Lance Armstrong, Michael Schumacher, Chilly Rathore and Geet Sethi have made their discipline popular; they are synonymous with the sport they play. Does anybody bother to know whose record did Lance Armstrong beat to be the highest winner of the Tour de France? The absence of Sachin does not make cricket any less popular, Dhoni and Pathan would do, but Geet’s absence might kill billiards in
Thirdly, Geet Sethi is probably the only champion to have come out of
But the thing that makes Geet Sethi the greatest sportsman in my mind is the fact that he has done so much for the sport. I think it was 1997 when Gold Flake decided to stop sponsoring the billiards world championship and due to lack of sponsorship the event couldn’t be played that year. Come 1998, Geet Sethi roped in a sponsor, Florsheim, and organized the world championship in Ahmedabad single-handedly. By the way, he also won the championship beating the then world champion Mike Russell.