Kanthi D Suresh who has anchored the Olympics, Asian Games & Commonwealth games for India, says that the Summer Olympics is the world ’s toughest competition on account of the simple fact that no other sporting competition has almost 200 countries participating together on the same platform, across such a multitude of events.
The competition really gets tough because in order for a sport or discipline to be considered for inclusion in the list of Summer Olympics sports, it must be widely practiced in at least 75 countries, spread over four continents. Undoubtedly, she says, medals at the Olympics determine the Sporting prowess of a nation!
Born in Bangalore, raised in Hyderabad, with an MBA in Human Resource Management, and a course from the London School of Journalism, Kanthi has been witness to many a podium finish at the Olympics, Commonwealth and Asian games
Asked whether there was any significant difference when it came to anchoring these events, she feels that the sheer number of countries that exist at the Olympics makes anchoring for the same, tough. It becomes important to know about sports like Fencing and Modern Pentathlon, which is not really known in India. It is important to be aware of the Olympic record holders across different countries and sports, as an ardent sports lover expects all of this information. While the athlete is giving his/her heart and soul on the field, its important for the anchor to do his/her homework well, to do justice to the sport and its fans, back home. When one is anchoring the show live, you really don’t know which event springs up on the screen, and you can’t throw a blank when that happens, she says.
When it comes to the Commonwealth games and the Asian games, though the number of sports per se are not really reduced, but the number of countries participating is way much lesser than the Olympics. The Asian games have about 45 countries participating and the Common Wealth games sees about 70 teams.
Apart from knowledge of all Sporting events, presence of mind, she says, is the most important factor for successful anchoring of these mega events.
What has significantly changed over the years, is the growing presence of women in sports, and the increasing podium moments that women seem to be garnering, says Kanthi, who herself comes from a conservative south Indian family, related to Late and former Chief Minister, Smt J Jayalalitha, and is now married to a bureaucrat and a former cricketer. She strongly feels that inspite of all the medal prowess, there is a gender gap existing in sports, world over! Gender issues have always been close to her heart and she has waxed eloquent on the same, in many of her programs and articles. Crowned as ‘Hyderabad Fashion queen’ in her college days, and a Gladrags Mrs India Finalist after her marriage, she says the divide exists across different genres, sports being no exception!
Media can play a big role to bridge this divide in sports.. Unfortunately, we hardly have women who own and run sports channels and the time is now ripe in India, for that to happen. Women entrepreneurs who have a passion for sport should take up the cudgels to be at the helm of affairs on sports media. We may then start seeing changes, she says.
Asked whether her husband being a sportsman had any impact on her decision to choose sports media, ‘yes’, she exclaims..’I met him when I was barely out of school and everything he said and did then, had an impact’. Ironically, inspite of her husband being a former Hyderabad Ranji player and both her boys following cricket ardently, she feels that an Olympic medal is the sine que non, to a country’s sporting success!
Kanthi feels that amongst all the sporting events that she has anchored, the Commonwealth games hosted in Delhi in 2010, was the most overwhelming experience because more than the data and analytics, it was about carefully balancing the emotions in every spoken word because the emotions were running high, and every Indian, whether a sport lover or not, was glued to his tv set, only waiting to hear about a medal for India!
All the best to our contingent for the upcoming Commonwealth games in April, this year, followed by the Asian games in August 2018, but its 2020 Olympics, which is the biggest test!