by Gomathi Rajam
Sports is a big part of the Chennai culture. These games are vehicles for transmitting values such as teamwork, fair play and justice. They have also played a part in bonding many together by contributing to social integration. There are so many sports that athletes play. Just take a look at the Olympic Games. But among the many sporting competitions, these are the 10 that Chennaites love like a fish loves water.
Adorned with Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at the East of the city, SDAT Tennis stadium at the centre and M. A. Chidambaram Stadium along the shore Chennai is one of the cities with the best sporting spirits that boasts a strong fan base for various sports. The city has been a home of a number of sport stars who etched their mark at various sports at the International level including Vishwanathan Anand, Ravichandran Ashwin, Sharath Kamal, Karun Chandhok, Dipika Pallikal and the Tennis pros Ramnath Ramkumar and Vijay Amritraj.
Take a look at the Top 10 Sports prevalent in Chennai.
Chennai holding the record of hosting the ATP Event, the Chennai Open for 21 years which is the highest in the Sub-Continent is referred to as the “Mecca of Indian Tennis”. The love for the Sport in Chennai is phenomenal when the tournament was unable to be moved elsewhere in India. Chennai has produced legendaries such as Ramanathan Krishnan, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Vijay Amrithraj and Ramesh Krishnan who have taken India to great heights. They have also set up Tennis academies in Chennai which is considered, one of the best in India.
Alike every other Indian city, Chennai boasts a strong fan base for Cricket. With “Whistlepodu” being the anthem, IPL is celebrated no less than a festival in the city. The love for the game and CSK was outspoken when Chennai travelled to Pune to support the home team there. The city has produced many cricketing stars such as Ravichandran Ashwin, Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Robin Sharma who have represented India at the International level.
Kabbadi, with it’s name derived from the Tamil word “Kai-pidi” which means holding hands is the state sport of Tamil Nadu. Kabbadi is one of the ancient sports and it’s origin can be traced way back in the Indian Mythology. The sport originated in the rural parts of Tamil Nadu is being played by various nations and Tamil Nadu has produced a number of players who represent the country. Tournaments are noted to have been conducted across various parts of the state.
Producing 23GM’s out of 64, the Country’s first International Master, the first Grand master, the female Grandmaster and the first Arbiter Chennai is referred to as the Chess capital of India. The state government facilitates the development of the sport through the state by making it mandatory at schools and organizing various Chess tournaments at the school levels. The sate has produced Viswanathan Anand the first GM of the country.
From children to adults and playgrounds to streets, Badminton is a sport played widely by in every nook and corner of the city. Though the city does has not produced a senior player to flaunt, the Junior circuit of the sport in strong in the city. With the emergence of Youngsters such as Sankar Muthusamy who bagged the Bronze medal at the Asia Junior Badminton Championship and Karan Rajan who clinched gold at the Guatamela Future Series Chennai is quite on the verge of rewriting history.
Table Tennis one of the developing sports in India is one of the most popular sport in Tamil Nadu widely played in schools and Colleges. Sharath Kamal, the first Indian to have become nine times senior National Champion is from Chennai. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran became only the second Indian in history to break into the Top 50 World rankings.
The sport with it’s headquarters at Chennai, is one of the sport gaining popularity in India. Often referred to as a recreational sport, the sport with its upcoming talents has rose to prominence at the world level. Chennai has produced some of the best Squash players such as Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinappa and Sunania Kuruvilla who have marked the dawn of Indian Squash at the world level.
Motorsports is one of the sport that India lags behind and there has only been two racers from the country who have represented in the Formula 1, Sunil Naraine and Karun Chandhok and both of them hail from Chennai. The city comprising the Madras Motor Racing Sports Club (MMSC), has a rich legacy of motorsports culture and it is one of the oldest in India. The MMSC conducts World class races and the race track is one of the two permanent race tracks in India.
The dominating Football culture in Kerala, West Bengal, Goa and North-East India has swept away Tamil Nadu from the limelight. Though Cricket and Tennis are by far the most popular sport in the city, Football is the most prevalent sport in the communities of North Chennai. Tournaments such as ISL has provided a forum for the footballers to exhibit their talents and North Chennai has produced a lot of Footballers representing India.
With the Mayor Radhakrishnan International stadium that has hosted the Champions Trophy twice, Hockey was once a popular sport in Chennai and the city produced a number of hockey players such as VJ Peter, V.Bhaskaran and Susainadhan. The sport is played is schools and Colleges.
Sport in Chennai is celebrated city and the city alike it’s multiple diversities, supports various sports and teams based on the sport. The city has also produced stalwarts for various sports and has been an exemplary of the Sporting spirit.