Sometimes we forget Pullela Gopichand once won the All England badminton title way back in 2001. That’s because he doesn’t talk about it and only devotes his energy in enhancing the skills of achievers like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap.
As of now Gopichand is virtually Indian badminton’s one-man machine that is being put to optimum use. Yet, working smoothly. The former player’s modesty is as admirable as his coaching achievements and this augers well for badminton in India.
Though Nehwal’s progress at the high-profile World Championships in China recently did not do justice to her skill and temperament, Sindhu won India’s first-ever women’s singles medal (a bronze) at this event. The achievement comes just before the start of the Indian Badminton League (IBL) which can boast of a tick mark before the first serve has been made.
With the world’s best players like Lee Chong Wei, Juliane Schenk and Taufiq Hidayat competing in India this month, there are few better opportunities for youngsters to be tempted to take up the sport. The IBL must not only be about money, stars, glitz and glamour. It should also help build better infrastructure so that India can challenge the best of their Asian counterparts.
Although Gopichand has been modest, he has not exactly been free of controversy. Mumbai-based player Prajakta Sawant has accused him of preferential treatment and the matter has ended up in court. There is also talk about the players he coaches ending up as big earners in the IBL auction.
Gopichand will do well to bury all the negative theories, face up to adversary and continue his sterling work. He has built a fine road. His fruitful journey must be allowed to continue in this most exciting phase for Indian badminton.