Pullela Gopichand is a man who dared to dream big in country obsessed with a single sport-cricket. Badminton is a sport which managed to get minimal credit due to contributions from single players because of their outstanding contribution and passion. However, Gopichand managed to create buzz around the sport.
Gopichand, the player
As a player, Gopichand was outstanding player who won the prestigious All England Championship after which he suffered a staggering defeat in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. However, India recognised him as a winner due to his contribution to the All England Championships.
He could have had a happy, retired life but had other plans in mind regarding the future of the sport in the country. He obsessively pursued his craze for badminton and managed to create hype about the sport in every possible positive way.
Gopichand, the coach
He got the much needed recognition as a coach after Saina Nehwal won a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics in Badminton. Another student of his, PV Sindhu carried on with the legacy by winning a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics while his other student, Parupallu Kashyap managed to become the first Indian man to qualify for the quarter finals in the Olympics in 2012.
He started training these champions in the two academies which he set up in Hyderabad. The students are trained from a very young age in these academies which have been rated as the best in Asia. The academies today, have 17 courts and train over 120 players each day. However, Gopichand is a strict trainer and doesn’t let his players off the hook very easily.
As a disciplined man himself, he expects the same from his students. The students have to be on the court by 4.30 AM and aren’t allowed mobile phones inside the academy. Gopichand has never missed a practice despite fever or a cold. This kind of dedication and determination is what helped him drive very talented individuals to win laurels for the country.
“For India to have its national anthem played at a global badminton event is a big thing. I think there cannot be a bigger motivation than that.” -Pullela Gopichand
He was recently awarded the Dronacharya Award which is well deserved as he has groomed players to win international tournaments and is slowly making badminton a rage in India.