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PULLELA GOPICHAND sprang one of the biggest surprises in the world's oldest tournament in 2001

Achievements of India in badminton Pullela Gopichand, he gave Indian badminton its wings first as a player, then as coach and mentor.

Last updated: 25.11.2017
Achievements of India in badminton, Pullela Gopichand won the All England badminton Badminton Championship 2001 | Sports Social Blog

"I know that my biggest disappointments have come from sport. But I also know that the only happiness I get in my life is also through my sport. This is where I belong. I've seen my life without badminton and it's not very nice."

~ Pullela Gopichand

PULLELA GOPICHAND sprang one of the biggest surprises in the world's oldest tournament by becoming the first Indian in more than 20 years to win the Yonex All-England Open Championships. This was the 91st edition of the all England Open badminton championships.

It was a four-star tournament and the prize money was US$125,000. The 10th seed was a slight favorite to beat Chen Hong but, by delivering such an emphatic 15-12, 15-6 victory after taxing wins over Olympic champion Ji Xinpeng and world No 1 Peter Gade, Gopichand's achievement will be long remembered.

His triumph at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena was also more reminiscent of Wembley 1980 than anyone would have expected. The 27-year-old's success emulated that of Prakash Padukone, who has not only coached Gopichand at the Padukone Academy in Bangalore but implanted a few of his own characteristics as well. There were similarities in the fluid movement and the deft net game and even in the comparative absence of a big smash, although Gopichand is more attacking than the master.

In the semi-final he played a dominant game, toppling world No. 1 and top seed Peter Gade in straight sets. This was a time when badminton had its old scoring system, where points could only be won on serves. In the final, against Chen Hong of China, Gopichand came back from a deficit in the first game and held on to his lead in the second. When a floating drop from Chen landed wide, Gopichand threw his arms in the air. The final lasted less than an hour but it had taken more two than decades in coming.

Gopichand must today be recognized as the man who started the Indian badminton renaissance. He gave Indian badminton its wings again - first as a player, then as coach and mentor.

Gopichand with All England Badminton Trophy 2001

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