Says Padma Bhushan is a huge motivator

The beaming face of Pullela Gopichand said it all when he arrived at his academy in Gachibowli after being named for the Padma Bhushan award. “Honestly, I feel a little bit of weight on my shoulders now and the award also means greater responsibility and expectations,” the former All England champion remarked.

How do you compare this award with the others you have won earlier? “Well, as a player I still cherish the Padma Shri award. It was something special. Such awards are huge motivators which help you in chasing bigger dreams,” he said.

“Definitely, the Padma Bhushan award is recognition for the growing popularity of the sport. I am just doing my job as a coach and enjoying every moment of it,” Gopi said.

What’s your reaction when critics point out that you are too young to get so many prestigious awards? “Well, the awards were given to me and not the other way around. I always feel humbled with these honours. I repeat they are a great source of inspiration for everyone in badminton.”

Even as he basked in the glory of his most famous trainee Saina Nehwal, who too arrived at the academy after winning the Lucknow Grand Prix title last weekend, Gopi felt that he could not have asked for a better final than the one which featured his two wards -- Saina and Sindhu.

“It was the most relaxed final I have ever had. I had no favourites as both of them are my own players and true champions,” Gopi said.

How does it feel to walk into the academy every time you get an award?

“I think the players feel happier. My job is to train them. But, yes, when I see the glow on their faces after every award, it is really inspiring for me too,” he signed off.

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