Pullela Gopichand: The man who put Indian badminton on global radar

The champion-making academy of Gopichand is the key factor behind India’s global success in the last decade.

Pullela Gopichand has out Indian badminton on the world map by mentoring champions like PV Sindhu. (Image credit: Twitter)

The legend behind the champions, Pullela Gopichand is widely known for his exploits as a coach. His world-class academy in Hyderabad has churned out multiple superstars who have kept India’s flag flying high in major tournaments. Among the array of world beaters, none more than Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu have been successful, winning multiple major titles including Olympic medals. Gopichand is undoubtedly the main reason behind India’s golden generation.

His humongous coaching achievements overshadowed his playing days. Not to forget that Gopichand was a talented player himself. Having won the National Badminton Championship title five times in a row, he won a silver in the team event and a bronze in men’s singles of the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Among the other titles, his major feat was the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001. He is the last Indian shuttler to bag that title and only the second from the country ever to claim it. Earlier, Prakash Padukone had won in 1980.

Champ-making factory

It took a while for the current chief national coach of Indian badminton team to set-up his academy. In 2008, the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA) was finally completed. Besides the several playing courts, the academy also has gym, swimming pool, cafeteria among others.

With wooden flooring of the courts made as per international standards, it also has physiotherapy. Besides, the academy also possesses quality Indian and international coaches. A focused physical and mental training is provided on the players to prepare for the pressure of playing in major tournaments.

Saina Nehwal was the first major player to come out of the academy. As a budding player, she showed a lot of promise with several trophies, including the World Junior Badminton Championships title in 2008. Gopichand was by Saina’s side to guide her at every step as she went on to win 11 Super Series titles. But her Olympic performances caught everyone’s eyes.

Gopichand mentors India’s guns to success

After becoming the first Indian to qualify for the quarterfinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she went a step further in 2012. In the London Games, she bagged a Bronze to become India’s first badminton player to get an Olympic medal. Gopichand’s influence behind the scenes was finally getting noticed.

Next up was PV Sindhu! The youngster from Hyderabad slowly started to come out of the shadows of Saina. The two Bronze medals she won in the 2013 and 2014 World Championships put the spotlight on her. But it was in the 2016 Rio Olympics, she had her major moment with a Silver medal. Sindhu then went on to win many other titles including a World Championships in 2019.

His academy produced many another world class players like Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, HS Prannoy and Sai Praneeth. The rise of these stars from being a budding talent to a world beater has to be credited to Gopichand. His world class facility is a major reason behind India enjoying a generation of global superstars.



WRITTEN BY
Karthik Raman

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