As PV Sindhu stormed into the final at Rio Olympics, displaying fantastic abilities and extreme fitness, she pleasantly surprised a billion people back home. But the man who should be given maximum for such achievements by Indians, not just in Olympics but also World Championships, is former badminton star Pullela Gopichand.
As PV Sindhu stormed into the final at Rio Olympics, displaying fantastic abilities and extreme fitness, she pleasantly surprised a billion people back home. But the man who should be given maximum for such achievements by Indians, not just in Olympics but also World Championships, is former badminton star Pullela Gopichand. It is because of his determined coaching and ambition that for the first time in history, India has a shot at Gold in badminton. If Sindhu wins Gold, she will be glorified and talked about, for a long time, but it is Gopichand who will quietly watch over her and revel in her success.
When Sindhu, in the semi-final was making jaws drop, with her jump smashes, back-flips and surprising drop shots, it was her coach who kept on cheering her infusing more enthusiasm. And then in the final few minutes how Sindhu won those 11 straight points, can make anyone fall in love with badminton. That is what Gopichand works for. Gopichand founded the Gopichand badminton academy, a training facility in Hyderabad. His love for badminton could be seen in the way that he set up his academy by mortgaging his house.
His dream to get India a badminton gold, as a player or as a coach, has still eluded him. Though that may change things forever at Rio this year. Nevertheless, he has given the country some of the great stars of Indian badminton: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap.
WATCH: PV Sindhu Beats Nozomi Okuhara, Enters Final
Gopichand as a player had won a gold at SAARC badminton tournament, a bronze in men’s singles at Commonwealth Games in 1998. But his biggest achievement was winning the All England Open Badminton Championships at Birmingham. He has been honoured with the Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, Padma Shir and Padma Bhushan.
With a simple gait and underwhelming persona, he can easily be mistaken for an average man; but his sheer determination makes him the person he is. He wakes up at 2 in the night, watches videos of his players to find out flaws. Then Gopichand goes to the academy and almost everyday reaches before others. He even works out and takes diets like the players, so that he is fit enough to practice with them. He inspires every inch, and it is an honour to be taught by the ‘Guru’ like him.