Pullela Gopichand had dreams in cricket crazy nation, the former world no. 4 planned to make badminton everyone’s favorite game and he did so by setting up his own academy in 2003. But road was neither easy nor did he stop dreaming. He kept on trying to bring forward a generation of badminton players like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, P Kashyap and Kidambi Srikanth, there are more names to shine from his academy.
Thirteen years later on Thursday when P V Sindhu made her way to the finals of Olympics; it was earned by hard work that Gopichand did on her game. In a nation where badminton doesn’t have the eyeballs or the capacity to become a majority sport, Gopichand has been polishing and grooming aspiring players day in, day out to make them ready. Now the number of people playing badminton has grown and that is what Gopichand had thought initially.
While coaches are never given credit in India and players ask for foreign coaches, the 42yrs old man with mission Pullela Gopichand has proven that if you will there is always a way. Today Gopichand will be living his dream of Gold medal via his player but beyond Sindhu’s hard work and dedication, it is the hard taskmaster, discipline and dedication to get to international events.
Gopichand along with two other coaches and two physios took India to the Olympic finals. PV Sindhu will be flooded with messages and wishes but Gopichand is the man behind every badminton player who made us proud recently. The former All-England Badminton champion was behind P Kashyap to make him won the All-England title. He had realistic expectations from his players. He knew that Olympic men’s competition will be pretty much same with Lei Chong Wei, Lin Dan and Chen Long domination but much have moved in women’s contingent where Chinese players are not playing in the finals. Even the women’s double match was against Denmark and Japan was worth watching.
Pullela Gopichand is the thread which weaves the Indian shuttlers and medals together across the world. After Sakshi Malik medal, Kidambi Srikanth made it to the quarterfinals, P V Sindhu made it to the finals; Gopichand is the proud man behind both. No one can claim the influence on Indian badminton the way Gopichand has, of late. Away from the centre court he is man building the sport day by day, second by seconds.
Gopichand has proved time and again that India has world class players to beat anyone in the game. Just as he did by beating World No. 1 Peter Gade in the All England semi-finals of 2011 followed by Chen Hong of China in the final to become the second shuttler after Prakash Padukone to take home the All-England title. Gopichand knew that this came very late in his badminton career at the age of 28 and he also knew that if he could have been on the court before he must have had an Olympic medal. But its never too late, now the man is building the badminton brick by brick to get India, an Olympic Gold Medal.