KERALA

Badminton aces of yesteryear hold court

The names of the game: Former national shuttle badminton champion U. Vimal Kumar (extreme right) shares memories with State-level players at the Sreemoolam Club in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.

The names of the game: Former national shuttle badminton champion U. Vimal Kumar (extreme right) shares memories with State-level players at the Sreemoolam Club in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: S. Gopakumar

M.R. Praveen Chandran

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It was a time to wallow in nostalgia for these old training partners, doubles partners and sometimes rivals on court. The get-together of yesteryear badminton players at the Sri Mulam Club here on Friday evening saw much sportsmanship on display.

To some, especially U. Vimal Kumar and his brother U. Vinod Kumar, the indoor court at the club brought in a sense of déjÀ vu.

Having spent hours inside the club training every day, it was like second home to Vimal Kumar and many other players from Thiruvananthapuram.

The second badminton alumni meet brought together an array of players which included Kerala’s first State champion in 1958, Balagopalan Thampi; George Thomas, Arjuna Award winner; U. Mani and K. Manikantan Nair, State champions; T. Beena and Asha; women champions; and the current crop of youngsters, including the promising junior international H.S. Pranoy.

Old rules

However, the star attraction indeed was Vimal Kumar, former national champion and now director, coaching, Tata-Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, Bangalore. Looking remarkably fit at 47, Vimal and George Thomas took on Vinod Kumar and Suresh in an exhibition doubles match.

There was sting in their smashes, their feet moving in sync with the mind and the bodies willing to go through the grind.

The audience was appreciative and the match was played according to old rules. The rules changed when the youngsters took the court.

After the matches, it was time to honour the stalwarts. Manikantan Nair, who had taken part in 27 State championships, was presented a cheque for Rs.5,000 from the players’ benefit fund. Soorya Krishnamoorthy, a key badminton enthusiast, was honoured.

Histroy of the game

A brief presentation on the history of Kerala badminton was made by T.R. Balachandran. Sajith Edwin, organising secretary, said the third alumni meeting would be held next year, and hoped that the participation would be even more.

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