The good boy of badminton

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chatline Prakash Padukone, who put India on the world badminton map, tells KALYAN ASHOK how India has been doing really well in the sport since 2008

India Today once named him among the 60 greatest Indians and that is no exaggeration. Prakash Padukone, who put India on the world badminton map with a string of sterling deeds as a player and later as a coach and administrator, is indeed a living legend.

The former All England champion, the only Indian who rose to World No. 1 in his prime, is an affable, self-effacing gentleman who stays focused on his Padukone Badminton Academy, established in 1994. The academy has produced a growing tribe of champions, including P. Gopichand, Aparna Popat, Anup Sridhar, Arvind Bhat, Trupti Murgunde, Aditi Mutatkar, Sayali Gokhale and Ashwini Ponnappa.

The champ, now 57, shared his thoughts on the game and himself with the Metro Plus.

Padukone is optimistic about the future of Indian badminton. It might have taken two decades for Gopi Chand to replicate his All England championship triumph, but the clutch of stars, now spearheaded by World No. 2 Saina Nehwal, has ushered in a new era.

“I always believed that the talent was there,” he says, “and it needed to be nurtured with exposure and training. And since 2008, when the Government went all the way to support the game for the preparation of the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the game has prospered well.”

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