Pullela Gopichand, also known as the Dronacharya of Indian badminton, is one of our country’s best athletes. He was born in the Indian state of Nagandla. When he was a child, his family relocated to Hyderabad. He began playing when he was 11 years old. Though he began by playing for leisure, he soon moved on to competing in local contests. Gopichand’s perspective shifted in 1991, when he was named to the state’s junior badminton squad. At the age of 18, he won the junior national championship, and three years later, the men’s national title.
He relocated to Bengaluru to hone his skills and take them to the next level. Prakash Padukone, a great badminton player, was his first coach. When he earned an individual bronze medal and helped the national team win a silver medal in the 1998 Commonwealth Games, he catapulted Indian badminton to new heights. He is also the sole player to win the 2001 All England Open Badminton Championships, becoming only the second Indian to do so after Prakash Padukone. In 2008, after retiring from the sport, he founded his own badminton academy, the Gopichand Badminton Academy.
Badminton Academy has nurtured world-class players such as Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, and Parupalli Kashyap, which is why he is recognised as the Dronacharya of Indian badminton. In the previous few years, Indian badminton has undergone significant changes. The domination of Indian players at the international level demonstrates that the subcontinent has emerged as a badminton powerhouse, challenging opponents on the international stage. The national coach of Indian badminton revealed his winning technique, which let him flourish at the international level despite his body’s inability to maintain his playing career.
In badminton, India has three top-ranked men’s singles players, two top-ranked women’s singles players, and one top-ranked men’s doubles combination. Gopichand had been keeping an eye on the players’ progress. However, one issue that bothers him much is that sports in the country have not developed as he would like.
Since the rise of his student Saina Nehwal, badminton has been in the spotlight. After being the first Indian to win an Olympic medal in badminton by winning bronze in London 2012, she has become one of the game’s marketing ambassadors in our country. She went on to become the first Indian woman to be ranked number one in the world. PV Sindhu won silver in the women’s singles event at Rio 2016 and became the first Indian woman to win gold at the World Championships. Kidambi Srikanth, who became the first Indian to achieve the top rank in 38 years after Padukone, is another ward who has made a name for himself on the international stage.
Badminton veteran Gopichand and former international shuttler Supriya Devgun have launched the Badminton Gurukul initiative, with the goal of assisting in the implementation of a solid and long-term physical literacy programme across India.
Badminton Gurukul has created a one-of-a-kind knowledge-sharing platform in which we invite former players to come forward and share their knowledge with young and rising shuttlers. This is a fantastic mix, and I am confident that it will increase the quality of coaching in India and result in a larger talent pool.