Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

condoling the death of TT ace V Chandrasekhar


I heard of him in 1980s, a handsome young Table tennis champion -  Three times national champion, semi-finalist at Commonwealth Games an, Arjuna Award winner, a gold medalist both in BA Economics and Law - a good career was in front of him. .. .. .. but fate was cruel  - he ended up fighting hitherto unknown medico-legal case on wrong treatment given to him in a famous city hospital that was just blooming to business at that time.


An year later after Kapil Dev’s heroics at Melbourne leading to a rare victory in Australian soil,  the 1982 Commonwealth Games were held in Brisbane, Queensland.  The Chairman of the 1982 Commonwealth Games was Sir Edward Williams. Matilda the  mascot was represented by a cartoon kangaroo, and a gigantic 13-metre (42 feet 8 inches) high mechanical "winking" kangaroo, who travelled around the stadium and winked at the crowd. The games were officially opened by The Duke of Edinburgh and closed by The Queen. Sports contested during the  Games included athletics, archery, badminton, lawn bowls, boxing, cycling, shooting, swimming, diving, weightlifting and wrestling. Table tennis and Australian football were demonstration sports.

The Chennai-born player,  reached the semifinals of the Commonwealth Games in 1982,  and was destined for greater heights but all his ambitions were cut short on the operation table of that famous hospital in 1984, when he was hardly 27.  A man who would jump all over and was so lively on the TT matches, was left a vegetable  following a botched knee surgery which led to him losing mobility, speech and vision. He fought back to recover and served the game as a coach. He also fought a legal battle against the hospital and got a verdict in his favour.

The man had walked his way to that hospital – immediately was left  with many a tube and needle thrust into his body. For reasons still unknown, Chandra, as he is known to fans of the sport,  turned blue during the operation and even suffered a cardiac arrest.  Things looked so bleak then that it was uncertain if he would ever come out of the hospital, let alone resume duty as a State Bank of India officer and move normally again.

Some of his close friends took efforts -  referred his medical condition to US hospitals   and received the expert medical opinion that his problem could be treated and that chances of recovery were good. But he had to spend many a lakhs [at a time when salaries of thousand was a rarity, lakh of rupees was big money !] – and unlike today, getting Foreign exchange required RBI permission and other procedures.  

Meantime he filed a legal suit against the hospital stating that the botched surgery crippled him – a man who walked to the hospital, came out in a condition where he was not able to support himself – and that was only a knee operation, stated to be a minor surgery.  It was a drawn-out legal process,  Chandra and his parents apprehended  the adverse publicity, perhaps an out-of-court settlement would have helped him in getting medical assistance abroad easier and earlier.   The Tamil Nadu Table Tennis Association (TNTTA) issued an appeal in the newspapers requesting sportsmen and the public to generously contribute to Chandra's cause. Kapil Dev contributed Rs 5,000; his  north zone team-mates collected another Rs 3,600, Ravi Shastri Rs 2,001.[again those were big monies – do not measure them with present day IPL offers !]

He fought the medical condition, the legal condition – sort of came out successful – though life could never be the same as before.. .. sad news today is - Arjuna award-winning former India table tennis player V Chandrasekhar died at a private hospital due to COVID-19 related complications, family sources said.

He was 64 and is survived by his wife and a son. Chandra, as he was popularly known, was a three-time national champion. The table tennis fraternity in Chennai condoled his death, saying that the sport had lost a legend.

May him attain shadagati – Om shanthi for his athma. 

With grief – S. Sampathkumar