Viswanathan Anand earned the nickname 'Lightning Kid' early in his playing days. However, can he be compared to the god of cricket in Sachin Tendulkar and the wizard of hockey in Major Dhyan Chand? Whatever said and done, it would perhaps be safe to say that for all that Anand has achieved, he is India's most under-rated sportsperson ever.
Winning five world championship titles in any sport is no small deal. And very few champions are as humble about it, as Viswanathan Anand is. Playing his moves at great speed, he earned the nickname of 'Lightning Kid' and 'Tiger from Madras'.
Anand is the only player to have won the world title in three formats. "I am just relieved that I will wake up tomorrow still as a world champion...it was toughest so far," Anand had said after his latest World Chess Championship win.
Anand has been the undisputed champion of the world since 2007, and there's no doubt that children in India have picked up the sport because of him, and only him. "Whatever Chess is in India is because of Anand," Woman International Master Tania Sachdev said.
For starters, it's unfair to compare greats across sports. For example, boxer MC Mary Kom is the only other Indian to have won as many world titles as Anand; Sachin Tendulkar has broken every possible batting record in cricket; In the 23rd year of his international tennis career, Leander Paes is still winning Grand Slams; And in the days when he played hockey, very few did so better than Dhyan Chand.
What goes against Vishy is perhaps the fact that chess isn't a physical sport, and it gets very little media attention too. And while no sportsperson has been conferred India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna yet, there's no doubt that Anand is a very worthy contender.