To strengthen the legacy that one of the city's debonair shuttlers Gautam Thakkar left behind, a tournament for juniors, in his name, was announced at the Bombay Gymkhana yesterday. Gautam Thakkar Memorial Badminton (GTMB) will host the R 10 lakh prize money Junior Masters Badminton Tournament that will be held from December 10 to 13 at the Bombay Gymkhana.
Top junior shuttlers from across the country will feature in the tournament. The tournament will be played on a league-cum-knock out basis for the first time in India. The top 12 singles players and top six doubles pairs (Boys and Girls) in the U-17 and U-19 age groups will vie for the title in their respective categories. Winners of the U-19 singles will pocket Rs 60,000 each, while the U-17 singles winners will take home Rs 40,000 each.
The doubles winners in the U-19 and U-17 will get Rs 65,000 and Rs 45,000 respectively. Remembering a 'dost' Khalid A H Ansari, President of GTMB said, "Gautam was Mr Reliable, unfailingly dependable and always willing to go the extra mile to help the deserving shuttlers and those close to him."
Thakkar's junior at St Xavier's High School, Shirish Nadkarni said, "he was an outstanding player, a gentleman and good human being. And though he is no more with us, the memories of his graceful play will remain with those who were fortunate enough to witness his exploits on the court, in his prime."
Uday Pawar, the organising secretary and former badminton stalwart also had kind words for Thakkar. "He was the most graceful player. But more importantly he was a very good human being," he said. Seven-time National singles champion Ami Ghia Shah recollected how Thakkar's sense of humour kept everyone in good spirits when they travelled to participate in tournaments held outside the city.