Tragedy of talented stars

DOWN BUT NOT OUT Shelton Moses (left) and Karthik

DOWN BUT NOT OUT Shelton Moses (left) and Karthik   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: R. SHIVAJI RAO

Why couldn't the talented trio from Tamil Nadu figure in the Indian team that went to Teheran?

They missed the bus at the last moment. The two talented volleyball players from Tamil Nadu, Shelton Moses and Karthik, could not make it to the Indian junior team that won the silver medal in the recently concluded Asian junior men (under 21) championship, held at Teheran, losing to the host, Iran, in the final.Both Moses and Karthik play for Indian Overseas Bank, Chennai. Their rise to the international level in just two years has been meteoric. They, along with setter Ukkarapandian, are the most talented junior trio in the State today. It is ironic that all the three players did not make it to the Indian team that flew to Teheran and that triggered a debate. However, the trio proved its worth during the preparatory tours before the major event. Moses, 199 cm, is a centre blocker. Karthik, 190 cm, is a frontline spiker. Moses came on the Indian volleyball scene about four years ago and the other IOB player, a bit later. But they had to fight their way into the national team.

Brilliant show abroad

In fact, Moses and Karthik went with the Indian junior squad to Russia, where it did well to take the title in 2004. And again in 2005, they went to Italy, where the Indian juniors put up a brilliant show to retain the title. Setter Ukkarapandian was also with the squad. Having been in the preparatory team, they failed to figure in the final side that went to the Iran capital. And that was the tragedy. No wonder then they were so disappointed at missing a big opportunity. There are people who swear that their presence would have made the difference in the final in which India, having done extremely well till the semi-finals, lost badly to Iran. The juniors had swept aside teams such as South Korea and Japan, the most powerful nations in Asian volleyball. But they collapsed when it mattered most. This was not the first time that India was losing to Iran at the last hurdle. In fact, four years ago, the national squad fought bravely in front of the partisan crowd and went down to Iran in a five setter. But this time, it was pretty bad, as the side was virtually routed. Hence the debate about the effectiveness of the team. The boys also figured in the Indian Youth team that finished third in the Asian championship in 2005 and qualified for the World championship in Algeria. What went wrong for the trio? They were in the camp right through. But just before the selection they came to Chennai to play for their institution, IOB, in the City league. That cost them dearly. By the time they returned, the team was chosen and was ready to leave. Institutions want their top players to do service to them first in all major events, as they are their paymasters. And the national coaches insist on continuous coaching and the presence of the players all the time. It is a tricky situation. Anyway Moses, Karthik and Ukkarapandian are all highly talented and their comeback should not be difficult. But this miss is a bitter pill for the youngsters, who have come to the city from Tamil Nadu's southern rural centres. That is where the real talent lies.M. C. RAMAN

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