By Nandu Natekar
Recently the Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai (SJAM) felicitated sportspersons from Mumbai and I was invited as Chief Guest to honour Sachin Tendulkar. That was only the second time I met him personally. The first time we met was way back in the 1990s when I was in England and Tendulkar was there with Vinod Kambli for some benefit match.
Though I have met Sachin only twice, my association with the Tendulkars goes a long way back in time. I knew Sachin’s father, Prof Ramesh Tendulkar, through the well-known writer, Mr Anant Kanekar and a professor in Siddharth College. Both of them stayed at Sahitya Sahawas. I used to meet is father once in a while through Mr Kanekar. Few years later, myself and Madhav Apte were invited by Sachin’s brother Ajit to recite a Marathi poem or two on his father’s death anniversary. I remember having gone to KC College and recite poems on that anniversary.
There is another interesting moment I can recount which I don’t know how far it is true. I believe, when he went on his first tour to Pakistan in 1989, he felt very lonely there and even his first innings didn’t go well. Hence he called Mr. Kanekar’s grandson — his close friend — to come to Pakistan to give him company.
Right from his concentration, his application, his hardwork and tremendous focus is a manual for every sportsperson to learn. He would play one match and he would immediately go to the other ground to play another. That is what you call tremendously focused. And above all, his gentlemanly behaviour is seen through all the acts he does, some which go unnoticed as well. His humbleness comes a lot from the tradition and good upbringing. It has never wilted or come down. It’s a pleasure to be around such a down-to-earth person. There is some kind of a glow that is around him, which maybe one could associate with Lata Mangeshkar. There is some kind of energy that is moving around him which I can’t be explained in words.
Another thing is that he is never satisfied; you can never reach the kind of milestones Sachin has achieved if one is easily satisfied. Because, if you think you have done enough then success sometimes goes to your head.
— As told to Abhijit Banare
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(Nandu Natekar is a badminton legend who made the world notice India’s presence in the sport. He was the first Indian to win a title abroad in 1956. He won the National men’s singles and doubles six times and the nixed doubles five times)