KOCHI: A replica of ‘Arjuna, the Supreme Archer’ will finally rest in Tom Joseph’s showcase. The 34-year old’s trophy cabinet at his residence in Puthiyakavu, Tripunithura, is so laden with glittering symbols of his success on a volleyball court that finding space for the Arjuna award would prove to be a tough ask.
Such has been his command over one of Kerala’s more popular games in the past decade and a half that made him India’s best player since the late Jimmy George. After having suffered nine years of rejection by the selection panel for no fault of his, the national team not being strong enough to win medals in major tournaments despite his brilliant individual efforts, Tuesday provide an occasion when the path leading to his house was abuzz with camera clicks and exchange of pleasantries.
“I thank my family, friends and everyone else who has supported me over the years. I feel relieved to have finally won the Arjuna award,” said the ‘smiling bomber’.
Just a few minutes after news broke of him being recommended for the coveted honour, enthusiasm was palpable as the by-lanes were unusually crowded with small groups engrossed in discussions that probably were about Tom’s achievement. No introduction was necessary; any unsure vehicle that stopped at the Puthiyakavu junction promptly got the direction to Tom’s house.
At the house, the mood was befittingly celebratory. His wife Janet received everyone dropping by with a smile and served them laddoos. Tom probably had the busiest day in his life, obliging well wishers and mediapersons, even as his children, Riya and Stuart, lapped up their father’s moment of pride.
Changes to the criteria this time, providing for all previous performances apart from recent achievements, led to the likes of Tom and Geethu Anna Jose being rewarded with the Arjuna after years of neglect.