Super striker Srinivas!

K. Srinivas, the men's champion,with the Indian team coach Neeraj Sampathy and the women's winner Rashmi Kumari.-

The self-effacing K. Srinivas has been crowned the carrom World Cup champion. V. V. Subrahmanyam has this interaction.

KSrinivas is a World Cup champion, but he doesn’t proclaim it. Only his beaming face said it all when he was crowned in the carrom championship in the Maldives, after beating Mohd. Gufran. He took the doubles title, too.

As in kabaddi, Indians have a virtual monopoly in carrom, except for the occasional forays by the Sri Lankans. Quite expectedly, India dominated the meet.

Former World Cup winner and two-time World champion Rashmi Kumari defeated her teammate Kavita Somanchi in the women’s final. She completed a double, winning the doubles title later on.

Srinivas, when he returned home, shared his joy with his parents — his father runs a small-time hair-dressing saloon.

It was a touching sight indeed. For little did his parents realise when Srinivas started playing the sport — interestingly on a borrowed carrom board, as he could not afford his own, in the by-lanes of Parsigutta in Secunderabad — that this day of prodigious achievement would dawn on them.

Srinivas’ joy also knew no bounds when the first-ever women’s World Cup carrom champion from Hyderabad — S. Appoorwa — walked across in the company of six-time national champion P. Nirmala to congratulate him on his “wonderful achievement.” They know what it means to be a champion in a sport which rarely gets its due at the higher levels. Fortunately, in Hyderabad, more than 40 national-level carrom players have got decent jobs in public sector undertakings and institutions thanks to the efforts of the Hyderabad Carrom Association founder-president B. K. Haranath.

“This is a great day for me and I am grateful to all those, especially my parents, coach Shobhan Raj and officials B. K. Haranath and S. Madan Raj, for making me what I am today,” said a visibly delighted Srinivas, who won three golds in the recent World Cup in the men’s singles, doubles and team events.

Srinivas has been wonderfully consistent, picking up the men’s singles titles in the Federation Cup, Senior national championship (he was the youngest ever to win this title at the age of 20), the International Champion of Champions and now the World Cup.

“I owe a lot to my parents who sacrificed a lot to let me sustain my passion for the sport,” says the proud champion even as his father K. Yellaiah was struggling to believe what was happening around him when the HCA put up a felicitation function in Hyderabad.

With Indian Oil giving him a consolidated pay of Rs. 20,000, Srinivas is able to manage his passion for the sport. “For long, they have suffered and now I want to repay my gratitude by getting a permanent job,” he said in a sober voice. What is he hoping for? “Some financial support from the State Government so that I can take care of my family at least now,” says an optimistic Srinivas.

The next target? “To be a world champion. It is going to be tough but that is my ultimate dream,” says Srinivas before joining the celebrations with his well-wishers.

“It was a terrific performance by the Indians as they won the team event too and this should give the sport a huge fillip,” said Indian team coach Dr. Neeraj Sampathy, who also happens to be the General Secretary of the Andhra Carrom Association and a great patron of the sport by way of hosting many events.

The Results: All Finals:

Men’s singles: K. Srinivas bt. Mohd. Gufran 13-25, 25-18, 25-19. Doubles: K. Srinivas & Akash bt Mohd. Gufran and Riaz Akbar Ali 25-13, 25-22.

Women’s singles: Rashmi Kumari bt Kavita Somanchi 25-17, 25-22. Doubles: Rashmi Kumari & Jayashree bt Kavita Somanchi & Kajal Kumari 25-7, 25-9.