The well-known Badminton player Pullela Gopichand was born on November 16, 1973 to Pullela Subhash Chandra and Subbaravamma at Nagandla, Prakasam District in Andhra Pradesh.
During his childhood he was interested in playing Cricket but his elder brother encouraged him to take up Badminton as his career. He did his schooling from St. Paul’s High School, Hyderabad. After his schooling he joined A.V College and was graduated in Public Administration. He was the Captain of Indian Combined Badminton Team in 1990 and 1991.
He was coached by S.M Arif before Prakash Padukone agreed to coach him in Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy. He was also trained by Ganguly Prasad SAI Bangalore. Gopichand won his first title the National Badminton Championship title in 1996 and won this title for five consecutive years until 2000. He has represented India in the Thomas Cup Tournament three times. He won the SAARC Badminton Tournament held at Vijayawada in 1996.
The following year 1997, he defeated the crown in the next SAARC games held at Colombo. He won two Gold and one Silver medal in the Indian National Games in 1998 held at Imphal. The same year he won a Silver medal for his team and a Bronze in Men’s Singles match in the Commonwealth Games. In 1999, he won the Toulouze Open Championship in France and the Scottish Open in Scotland the same year. He was also awarded by the “Arjuna Award” – the best sportsperson for the year.
He won the prestigious all England Open Badminton Championship held at Birmingham in 2001. Because of his hard work he was awarded with the “Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna” in 2001. As a successful Badminton player he defeated the then world number one Badminton player, Peter Gade in the Semifinals before he defeated Chen Hong of China and lifted the Trophy.
As a young man he became the second Indian to achieve the feat after former Indian Badminton player Prakash Padukone who won it in 1980, and has been an inspiration.
In 2001, Gopichand founded “Gopichand Badminton Academy” in Hyderabad. This Academy has trained many Badminton players including Saina Nehwal, Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap, P.V Sindhu, Gurusai Datt and Tarun Kona. But that was not the end of his career; he was awarded by the “Padmashree Award” in 2005.
Later he was awarded by the “Dronacharya Award” in 2009 and the “Padma Bhushan” in 2014. He married fellow Badminton player P.V.V Laxmi on 5th June, 2002. He has two children, a daughter and a son. Now his daughter, the elder one of the two siblings, is the Under 13 Badminton Champion.
He is an inspiration to all.
(An article by Sharon Ebenezer Raj)