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Home > City Resources > Sports and Recreation >  Crowning glory

 GOPI CHAND: CROWNING GLORY 


With Chen Hong Pullela Gopi Chand
of Hyderabad has added a new chapter to the history of Indian badminton. A chapter that will remain forever in golden letters. By winning the All England Badminton Championship, considered as the Wimbledon of badminton, he has taken India to new heights in sports. The whole of India had to wait for more than two decades to see a new champion emerge in badminton after Prakash Padukone won the coveted title for the first time in 1980.

Ecstatic after winningThe Indian won the Yonex All-England Badminton Championship with a masterful display of tactical badminton, backed by wonderful net-play and interspersed with superb smashes. He defeated Chen Hong of China, the 12th seed in straight sets, 15-12, 15-6. Gopi Chand received $10,000 beside the glittering trophy. Gopi Chand has had a wonderful run in the tournament. The world no. 10 did not concede a single game enroute to the title.

A product of St Paul's High School and AV College, this Hyderabadi lad has come a long way in badminton. This victory was not achieved very easily. He has gone through some tough moments during his fifteen year career. The injury to his knee in the National Games held at Pune in 1994 was a huge setback to his career. He was in bed for nearly six months and underwent a major operation in Mumbai. But the injury did not deter him and he came out like a wounded tiger and won some great matches after that. He first won his major title, the juniors single crown in the Nationals at Goa in 1994. Gopi Chand made his international debut in the Malaysia Open and reached the finals but lost to a superior China player in the final.

Prakash Padukone, the first Indian to win the All-England Badminton Championship in 1980, on Sunday night termed Gopi Chand's victory at Birmingham as a splendid and well-deserved one. "It's a great day for Gopi as well as Indian badminton. He had beaten all the top players on his way to the final and outplayed China's Chen Hong very convincingly," Padukone said. "The victory should change the Indian badminton scene and make other players more confident. A victory like this has come after a long time," he said. Hyderabad-based Gopi Chand underwent intensive coaching for two years at the Padukone Academy in Bangalore. At present, he trains at the Sports Authority of India courts, also in Bangalore.

Lifting the trophyHis parents who were in Chennai watching the match on television were ecstatic. Says Gopi Chand's mother Subbaramamma. "I am very thrilled. I've been waiting for this news since many years." His father S C Bose, an officer with the Indian Overseas Bank says, "He's achieved what no Indian after Prakash Padukone achieved, I am happy". The principal of A V College M V V Subba Rao where Gopi Chand finished his intermediate education says "we are delighted with this victory and we are proud that one of our students has taken India to glorious heights. We are planning to felicitate him in the month of June."

The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu who was ecstatic after his victory said that this is a big day for badminton. Andhra Pradesh was proud of its great son Gopi, who became the second Indian to win the England title, he said.
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- MAR Fareed

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