Hyderabad : If there is one person that helped India produce world-class badminton players, it’s Pullela Gopichand and his badminton academy in Hyderabad.
He was a terrific badminton player. The heart-breaking defeat at the Sydney Olympics made him realize that how he can benefit to others and help them using his skills.
The amazing PV Sindhu at the Rio Olympics has successfully brought the focus on her coach and his academy here in Hyderabad.
PV Sindhu, who created history by winning silver medal in the women’s singles event, is one of the finest products of Gopichand’s Badminton Academy. PV Sindhu is the second woman shuttler after Saina Nehwal to make the country proud and to take the badminton world by storm.
The whole credit of making India famous in the world of badminton goes to the 42-year-old Gopichand, who has groomed world-class talents. Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap, Prannoy Kumar, Arundhati Pantawane, Gurusai Datt and Arun Vishnu are other products of his academy. He always had dreams of producing Olympic medallists.
His efforts started showing results with Saina winning bronze in the 2012 London Olympics. She was the first Indian woman shuttler to achieve the feat. Four years later, Sindhu reaching the final again made Gopichand’s dream come true. He spotted talent in Sindhu when she started playing at the academy at the age of 10.
He has proved what changes a good institution can bring. He not only helped in funding but also created world-class infrastructure. Players narrate how he involves himself in training and give his 100% in improving their technique.
“Sometime I feel bad that in-spite being down with fever, he comes to the academy to train my daughter Sindhu and other players,” said Sindhu’s father P.V. Ramana. Gopichand won the All England Open Championship In 2001. He became the second Indian after Prakash Padukone to lift the title.
Injuries forced Gopichand to go for an early retirement but he didn’t lose the confidence and decided to be a coach and create a world class infrastructure to fill the vacuum.The government of Andhra Pradesh allotted five acres of land to Gopichand in the city to set up an international badminton academy.
In March 2016, Gopi opened the second academy in the same area. It’s known as Sports Authority of India (SAI)-Gopichand Academy, it can accommodate 60 trainees and has nine courts. However, this is not sufficient to meet the huge demand, which picked up during the last five years. People have started showing in badminton and ready to explore their hidden talents.
Searching for talent across the country, Gopi already has set up academies in Gwalior, Vadodara, Tanuka (Andhra Pradesh) and Salem (Tamil Nadu). He also plans to open more including one in Greater Noida.