Pullela Gopichand, Indian Badminton's Renaissance Man, celebrates his 46th birthday on November 16, 2019. Gopichand, under whose tutelage India clinched two Olympic medals – Saina Nehwal in 2012 and PV Sindhu in 2016 – and witnessed an Indian Badminton World Champion for the first time, is a former Indian badminton player and current head coach of the Indian National Badminton team. Gopichand was bestowed with the Padma Bhushan – India's third civilian award – in 2014 for his contribution and achievements to Indian badminton. He was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 1999 and the Dronacharya Award in 2009. Interestingly, he is also referred to as the ‘Dronacharya’ of Indian badminton. Dronacharya is a sacred word for guru or mentor in Hindu mythology.
As a player, he made India proud but it was as ‘coach Gopi’ that Gopichand truly helped India map its journey in world badminton. In 2001, Gopichand beat then World No 1 Peter Grade and Chen Hong to win the All England Open Badminton Championships becoming only the second Indian after Prakash Padukone to clinch the prestigious tournament. Padukone had won the trophy in 1980. He also clinched two medals at the Commonwealth Games as a Badminton player. Take a look at some lesser-known things and achievements of Pullela Gopichand as he celebrates his 46th birthday.
- Pullela Gopichand was born in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh on November 16, 1973. His parents are Pullela Subash Chandra and Subbaravamma.
- Gopichand initially wanted to become a cricketer but his brother forced him to play badminton. Gopichand went on to become a Badminton player and is also currently a Badminton coach.
- At his young age, Gopichand trained at an academy. He and his mother Pullela Subbaravamma walked for miles to the academy to save money as they were poor and couldn’t afford to take normal transport every day to the academy.
- Pullela Gopichand won the all England Open Badminton Championships in 2001 becoming second Indian to win the trophy after Prakash Padukone, who clinched the title in 1980.
- Gopichand won the silver medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
- He captained the Indian combined Universities Badminton team in 1990 and 1991.
- Gopichand holds record of winning five successive national badminton championship title from 1996 to 2000
- He had to reportedly mortgage his house to build the Gopichand badminton academy in 2008. The academy has since produced India’s current crop of top Badminton players. The academy started with 25 local players and currently is home to over 500 players from across the country.
- Pullela Gopichand’s daughter Gayathri is the reigning u-13 national badminton champion. His son trains at the Gopichand academy.
Gopichand founded the Gopichand badminton academy in 2008, which has since produced three of India’s most successful badminton players – Sindhu, Saina and Kidambi Srikanth – and has nurtured the several others. Other badminton players like Sai Praneeth, Parupalli Kashyap, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Sourabh Verma among others have also trained at the academy.
Gopichand was the coach as India clinched medals in two successive Olympics, brought a maiden badminton gold home from the Asian Games and after a hat-trick of second and third-place finishes, witnessed an Indian champion at Badminton World Championships. Happy Birthday Pullela Gopichand, Indian Badminton’s Renaissance Man!