What Pullela Gopichand could not achieve as a player, he did so as a coach, 2 Olympic medals! Winner of the All England Open, 2001, Pullela did not always want to become a badminton player. He started the game as a hobby when he was 11 years old.
Pullela Gopichand started participating in badminton competitions and made his name when he won the national champions at a mere age of 18.
He took Indian badminton to new heights, winning a rare individual badminton bronze at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. In a game fiercely dominated by the Chinese, he defeated China’s Chen Hong to become only the second Indian to win the All England badminton championship. Apparently, Pullela was coached by India’s only other champion at the tournament, Prakash Padukone.
After retiring from professional badminton, Gopichand embraced the field of coaching in a hope of repeating the achievements of his and his coach Prakash Padukone’s glorious performances. He instead bettered them, he gave the game recognition that had been lacking in India. What started with a Rs 50 Million donation by Nimmagadda Prasad, with a promise of an Olympic medal, fruited in two instead. In 2006, the Badminton Association of India made Gopichand India’s national team’s coach.
Pullela founded the Gopichand Badminton Academy in 2008 and made it the hotbed of badminton preparation in the country. India’s most prominent players like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap, Gurusai Dutt and Srikanth Kindambi have been trained under coach Pullela.
For his contribution to the game as a player and later as a coaching, Gopichand has been honoured on multiple occasions.
He was awarded the Arjuna Award(1999), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (2001), Padma Shri (2005), Dronacharya Award (2009) and with Padma Bhushan (2014).