Thursday, November 30, 2023

Gopi,the magician who transformed national badminton a la Nehwal, Sindhu

India will win badminton gold at Tokyo Olympics: Pullela Gopichand in Jamshedpur

Jamshedpur, Sept. 25: Legendary badminton player Pullela Gopichand who comes from a humble background made it big at the world stage first while playing and secondly while coaching two of India�s Olympic medalist badminton players Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu.

Pullela Gopichand in Conversation with Sports Writer Boria Majumdar as part of the annual event ‘A Celebration of Sports’ at Fasy Auditorium, Loyola School, shed light on his early life, struggles,  how he took up the sport, leadership, coaching and shared tips on how to be successful.

“While a kid I loved sports but coming from Telugu community where most aim to be a doctor or engineer, it was very difficult for me take up sports. The situation became more complex when my brother went to IIT. As my father was a banker it was a transferable job and we were constantly on the move staying in Odisha, Chennai, Andhra Pradesh and finally, when I was in class 6 we moved to Hyderabad from where it all began. My mother took me to cricket academy but there was no seat available after which the second option was Tennis but I landed up at a Badminton court which was empty and the rest is history,” said Gopichand. 

Gopichand suffered a lot of injuries during his playing days. “I had a left knee surgery in 1994,  suffered an ankle fracture but after winning the All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001 I thought I had the formula to be successful at the top level. But injury struck me again after which every tournament that I played I thought I was playing at the expense of my academy kids,” added the Chief National Coach.   

 Boria informed that the trainees at the Gopichand Academy today have more than 100 international titles together. 

Father of a 16-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son, Gopi, as he in fondly called, urged the kids  never to get disconnected from their roots, follow Indian culture and values and not to hanker after Western culture.

Talking about his two favourite girls arguably India’s most celebrated athletes Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, Gopichand informed that Saina never bothered who she was playing against and this made her stand apart. �This is how champions are made,� he observed.

“Lot of negative reactions came in when girls coaching was started but Indian girls have reversed the ‘Beti Bachao’ slogan to ‘Betion ne Bachaya’ during the Rio Olympics”, Gopi opined.

He said shuttlers have to go through tough training and PV Sindhu was always present at the training sessions at 4.30 am continuously from 2010 to 2017.

“Sports is important for by participating in such activities one becomes healthier and gains other parallel benefits. Just by taking up sports you are a champion,” added Gopichand.

Replying to Boria’s question about Olympic medal, Gopichand was quite sure that in 2020 the colour of the medals would change �As after 2008 Beijing we have improved a lot and have won a bronze and silver.�

Gopichand asked the kids present at the event to give 100 % to whatever theydid. Taking full sleep, complete food, 100 % training for 365 days a year will definitely bear fruit. “Love what you do, be passionate, have a desire to excel in sports. Winning is a bi-product of passionate playing while success is a repeated failure,” he noted.

Responding to kids� queries about why India is behind in sports, Gopichand said, �Things have changed in the last 10-12 years and we need to put in our full effort without waiting for the resources.�

�In 1991 I failed engineering exam and my mother gave me one year or be back to studies and the same year I won the junior national title.� He also informed about his first job in Tata Steel as his mother was worried about his employment.

But today, Gopichand is a brand name, a legend in his own right who continues to nurture and polish prospects with his badminton genius to continue the lineage of real champions.

The event saw the presence of Chanakya Choudhary, Vice President, Corporate Services, Tata Steel, school kids, parents along with Tata Steel officials.

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