Carrying forward the legacy of one of the city’s most stylish shuttlers, Gautam Thakkar, who was also India’s first and only Asian junior champion, the second edition of the tournament for juniors was announced at the Bombay Gymkhana yesterday. The Gautam Thakkar Memorial Badminton Association (GTMBA) will organise the R 10 lakh prize money for All India Junior Masters badminton tournament (November 22 to 25) at the Bombay Gymkhana.
All the top juniors in the country including reigning U-19 national singles champion Harsheel Dani, Aditya Joshi (silver medalist with Dani at the 2011 Russian Jr International doubles event), India’s No 1 (U-19) Rohit Yadav besides other prominent players from the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy and the Gopichand Badminton Academy, will vie for top honours at the event.
Remembering Thakkar — his Saturday lunch friend — Khalid A-H Ansari, President of GTMBA said, “Gautam was the heart and soul of our close knit group that consisted of people from all walks of life. His game was badminton and mine was squash, but it’s the common interest in cricket that kept us together. He was, without doubt, Mr Reliable. I can never forget the Saturday afternoon lunches that we used to have with him and other friends including Sunil Gavaskar.
After his sad demise (due to cancer in 2008) the group has spilt, but we still try and catch up whenever I am in the country.”
Thakkar’s junior at St Xavier’s School (Marine Lines), and organising secretary of the tournament, Shirish Nadkarni said, “Gautam was an outstanding player.
And though he is no more, the memories of his graceful play will remain with those who were fortunate enough to witness his exploits on the court.”