Badminton is one of the most loved sports in India. It is not only played professionally, but also on the streets. From your grandfather to your mother, you must have seen someone play in your family. For over a decade, India has given birth to many brilliant badminton players. These players have not only made our country proud, but also motivated the youth in the country to take up badminton as a profession.
After the success of many badminton players, India saw the opening of many badminton academies. These players have not only motivated people to play badminton, but also inspired them to stay healthy and fit. Badminton is considered one of the sports that not only keeps you fit, but also gives you an adrenaline rush. The fast pace of the game has attracted crowds as spectators and also the players. With this, the awareness about badminton as a professional game is increasing at a rapid rate. All this has been made possible by some of the gems of India.
A player who dominated the badminton scene for almost a decade, Prakash Padukone helped India get on the world map in badminton. Born on 10th June, 1955, in Bangalore, Padukone is a badminton legend who became the first Indian to win the All England Championship in 1980. It is the world’s most prestigious annual badminton competition in which he triumphed like no other Indian. At the fragile age of 16, Padukone won the National Senior Championships in 1971, hence becoming the youngest player to achieve the feat.
He then went on to win every successive championship till 1979, and in doing so, set a record for nine national titles in succession. He also won a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 1978. Padukone achieved the number one world badminton ranking because of the wins in the All England championship. He was the first Indian to achieve that status. He retired in 1989 and in 1994, opened the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy along with his fellow player Vimal Kumar. In 1982, he was awarded the Padma Shri, which is the most prestigious civilian honour in India.
You must have heard the name of the world famous badminton players PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. There is one commonality between the two of them — their coach is Pullela Gopichand. He is not just a great player, but also a great coach. Gopichand made his first appearance in international badminton in 1991, and has achieved many accolades in his life. He won bronze and silver medals in the Commonwealth Games in 1988. In 2001, he won the All England Championship.
Due to many physical injuries he got on his journey, he retired early and opened an international badminton academy. He now trains bright and brilliant badminton players. He has been awarded the Padma Shri, Dronacharya Award and Arjuna Award.
PV Sindhu is one of the most precious gems of India. Most of us know who she is, this is kind of the impact she has had in India. In 2016, she won a silver medal in the Olympics. This made her the second woman after Saina Nehwal to achieve this achievement. She rewrote history after becoming the first Indian shuttler to ace the badminton World Championship, defeating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in Switzerland. Sidhu is still going strong in her career. She is the recipient of the Padma Shri, Arjuna Award and Gandhi Khel Ratna award.
Saina Nehwal is one of the most famous female badminton players in India. She has worked hard and has come a long way in her national and international journey. She won the junior badminton championship in 2004 and then again the next year.
She has been the world’s number one badminton player and is the only Indian to have achieved this. Nehwal was the first Indian to win a medal in the Olympics. She has over 23 international titles to her name. She has played a vital role in popularising the game in the country. With all the prestigious awards to her name, she is also a recipient of the Arjuna Award, Padma Shri and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.
One of the most celebrated players in India, Srikanth Kidambi became the recipient of the highest prize money in 2017. He left behind Lee Chong Wei and Tai Tzu Ying in this race. He has numerous achievements to his name. Kidambi is another one of the star players to be coached by Pullela Gopichand. Kidambi is the recipient of the prestigious Arjuna Award.
Aparna Popat is another star player in India. She has several achievements to her name, one of the most prestigious being the winner of the National Senior Women’s Badminton for the highest number of times. She has also attended many international events. In 1988, she became the first Indian woman to win the French Open title. She is also the recipient of the Arjuna Award.