What is common between Shubhankar Sharma, Ramesh Babu Praggnanandhaa, Anish Banwala, Manu Baker, Mehuli Ghosh, Prithvi Shaw, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shubman Gill, Shivam Mavi and HimaDas? They are all prodigies in sports from India. Except Shubhankar Sharma- golfer who is 21, the remaining all are still in their teens. Ramesh Babu the International chess master is only 12 years old.
The world has seen child prodigies who have shown exceptional natural ability to perform different activities at a very young age. Let us look in to the achievements of the above mentioned prodigies from India that has made the world sit up and take notice. To remind you Sachin Tendulkar was one such prodigy who represented India at the age of 16.
Ramesh Babu Praggnanandhaa-chess player, 12 years of age, is already an International master. He recently won the second Grand master norm that has taken him closer to becoming the youngest grand master ever.
Anish Bhanwala– aged 15, is the youngest winner of a commonwealth shooting gold medal. He achieved this distinction representing India in the recently concluded Commonwealth games at the Gold coast Australia.
Manu Baker– aged 16; also won a shooting gold medal during the CWG 2018.She has already won two gold medals at the Sr ISSF world cup and one gold medal at the ISSF Junior world cup.
Mehuli Ghosh– aged 17, is the silver medal winner at the 21st CWG Gold coast. She won two medals at the ISSF World cup and created a junior world record during the same event.
Prithvi Shaw– 18years of age was the captain of the under-19 cricket team that won the U-19 world cup. A prolific batsman, who has shattered many records already, has been selected to play in the IPL-2018. He has been chosen for an IPL contract price of 1.2 crores.
Shubman Gill– 18years of age, cricket batsman, was also a member of the team that won the U-19 world cup recently. He has been chosen to play in the IPL-2018, by one of the franchisees for a price of 1.8 crore.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti– 18 years of age, is a fast bowler who represented the U-19 world cup winning Indian team. He has been chosen to represent in the IPL-2018, for whopping price of 3.2 crores.
Shivam Mavi– aged 19, is another fast bowler who represented India in the U-19 world cup. He has been chosen by one of the franchisees for a price of three crores to represent their team in the IPL-2018.
HimaDas– aged 18, is an athlete from India who takes part in the 400m race. That she qualified to run in the finals of the 400m race during the CWG games in Gold Coast Australia is in itself a huge achievement. She however finished sixth in the finals creating her personal best timing in the process.
Shubhankar Sharma– aged 21, is an International professional golfer from India. He created a sensation by winning back to back European and Asian tour titles- the Johannesburg Open tournament and the Maybank Championship in Malaysia. He is the second youngest Indian to win the Asian tour title after Gaganjeet Bhullar. He made the whole golfing world to take notice of him during the WGC-Golf championships, held at Mexico recently. He was on top of the leader board on the first three rounds in the championship in which the best players from all over the world participated. It was in the final round when everyone expected him to maintain the lead and win the championship he faltered only to finish joint- ninth in the final essay.
To the talented, skilled, focused, hardworking success will come on a regular basis till they reach the world stage which is considered as the pinnacle. It is here many struggles to maintain consistency due to expectations of the self and others, fear of failures, newly found fame, media attention and conscious effort to maintain their status quo. Many have done it and it is surely possible for this bunch of ambitious, talented and hardworking kids.
When successful young athletes fear losing their status, grades, seeding’s, top positions they, instead of focusing on the process and be automatic, end up putting conscious effort with desperation for result at the back of their minds- the resultant effect is pressure with its negative physiological and psychological symptoms. This could lead to decrement in performance.
Let’s examine Shubhankar Sharma’s case- after he led the leader board by three shots at the WGC Mexico, he may have become too self-conscious and desperate to maintain/increase the lead and in the process may have tightened up a little. Knowing he is a cool customer the truth may be closeted somewhere in his mind which only he can reveal.
After the World Golf Championship Mexico, Shubhankar was invited to participate in the Augusta Masters, another hotbed for high level competition. Here he failed to make the cut. This is what life teaches our young achievers.
Talking to a reporter after the senior world cup in which she won a gold medal, 16 year old Manu Baker said `I wasn’t scared of my rivals and I didn’t even know them. This may made things easier for her, perhaps. After the player grows in stature at the International level s/he becomes more conscious of who they are and who their opponents are – this awareness is both good and bad that depends on the how the person perceives the situation.
The object of this blog is to understand what it takes for the prodigies to take- off from here, grow from strength to strength, create a niche for them-selves and enjoy a celebrated career. The question that would crop in everyone’s mind is- how long will it last? whether they would be able to handle the pressures of International competition day in and day out, maintain consistency, handle success and failures on an even keel, hold on to their focus and dreams, control their distractions, control their emotions, maintain good life style and discipline, do away with indiscretion and not to be carried away by fame and fortune.
I am sure with the right kind of support from the entire sports fraternity these young kids on the block will flourish to make them and the country proud.