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Badminton great Natekar passes away

Former Indian badminton player Nandu Natekar snapped on July 05, 1996. PHOTO: THE HINDU ARCHIVES   | Photo Credit: K. GAJENDRAN

Nandu Natekar, one of the superstars in Indian badminton history, passed away in Pune due to prolonged illness. He was 88.

“With deepest sorrow, we would like to inform you that our beloved father Nandu Natekar passed away on July 28,” said a joint statement by his family. “Keeping in mind the COVID-19 guidelines, we will not be having a condolence meeting. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.”

Natekar is survived by son Gaurav, a former international tennis player, and daughters Sangeeta Welinkar and Nishigandha Mathur.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Natekar was a household name all over India, thanks to his exploits on the court across the globe.

The first Indian shuttler to win a tournament overseas — the Selangor International crown in Kuala Lumpur in 1956, Natekar was among the first batch of the Arjuna Award recipients in 1961 when the awards were introduced. His international achievements included making it to the All England Championship quarterfinals in 1954 and representing India in the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica in 1966.

Spellbinding

Moreover, in an era when domestic sports circuit would see spectator galleries overflowing, Natekar was a crowd-puller. He bagged six singles, six doubles and five mixed doubles National titles during his glorious career. His footwork was often compared to that of a ballet dancer while his deceptive wrist-work left his opponents and connoisseurs spellbound.

Interestingly, it was another racquet sport — tennis — that was his first love. He excelled in tennis as much as badminton, losing to the legendary Ramanathan Krishnan in the 1951 National junior championship final.

After dominating the indoor courts for a decade and half, he resumed his love affair with tennis, being a regular on the veterans’ tennis circuit for many years.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 9:55:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/indian-badminton-great-nandu-natekar-dead/article35576017.ece

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