They have always played the humble sport of kabaddi and humility is their virtue. BC Ramesh and Suresh are so far removed from glitter, that the two did not even know what the Arjuna Awards -- the most prestigious awards for sporting excellence in the country -- mean.
"When a close friend came and told me that I had won an Arjuna for kabaddi this year, I came to know that such an award existed," says Ramesh, an assistant manager in the State Bank of Mysore, who returned home with team-mates after bagging the fourth consecutive Asian Games gold at Busan.
"The Award had put extra pressure on me to perform at Busan and I knew I had to live up to it," said the Karnataka player at a felicitation function organised by the chairman of the newly constituted National Sports Council chairman Vijay Kumar Malhotra.
"People look down upon kabaddi and I have myself seen people sneer at the very word. But that is going to change in the future as the Europeans and other Asian countries are taking to the sport in a big way," says the lanky player.
"Kabaddi is a fast-changing sport and a lot of innovations have taken place… like the introduction of taekwondo (synthetic) mats instead of the conventional mud. But that will only improve the game and make it player-friendly," he avers.
"The results are there for all to see. At Busan, the level of competition was high and no team could be taken lightly. Just before the Games, we participated in the Malaysian Open and encountered stiff competition there," he said.
Suresh, meanwhile, lamented the limited infrastructure for the sport in the country. "If we want to give a truly international look to the game, we will have to improve the infrastructure. After all, how much does a mat cost? You can buy 50 mats for the cost of one hockey turf," he says.