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HomeEconomy'Years of hard work' paid off India's pride in badminton MPNRC News
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‘Years of hard work’ paid off India’s pride in badminton MPNRC News

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‘Years of hard work’ paid off India’s pride in badminton

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India’s badminton team touched new heights with their maiden Thomas Cup win in Bangkok last week, even managing to keep cricket in the shadows while former players were confident the sport was “building on this success”. Can do.

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The men’s team won the badminton equivalent of the Davis Cup in tennis by defeating Malaysia, Denmark and then 14-time winners Indonesia.

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Team manager Vimal Kumar described the victory as “the biggest achievement” for a country whose rare top men’s tournament successes in the past included the All England Open Championship for Prakash Padukone in 1980 and Pullela Gopichand’s victory in 2001.

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Kumar, once a team Asian Games bronze medalist, said as players started arriving, he always foresaw good things for Indian badminton.

“Since 2017 when Sai Praneeth, (Kidambi) Srikanth and (HS) Prannoy had three good singles players, I had faith in them,” Kumar told AFP.

“But as a team, they could not play together due to various reasons.

“This victory has come after years of hard work.”

The latest talented youngster to emerge is Lakshya Sen, who turned heads when he reached the prestigious All England Open Championship final in March, losing to world number two and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

The 20-year-old Sen, along with senior singles players Srikanth and Prannoy and the doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, proved to be a key player on the way to India’s 3-0 Thomas Cup final win over Indonesia.

Kumar said India now needs to build on the team’s achievements and lay the foundation for future success.

“They need to see how they can better market the game,” he said. Maybe get a team sponsor.

‘The whole country has been wired’

“And with the money[that comes]they can get the development at the grassroots level for the next line of players.”

The team’s exploits in Bangkok kept the sports fans across the country going crazy about cricket.

“For three days, the whole of India was looking forward to badminton. I think it is his achievement, more than winning the Thomas Cup he brought great joy to the Indians,” journalist G Rajaraman told AFP.

Women’s singles players such as Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu have kept Indian badminton in the limelight by winning Olympic medals in recent years, but the sport ranks third in terms of popularity of cricket and hockey.

“Badminton is one of our better sports in terms of results, achieved through Prakash’s (Padukone) gopi (Pulela Gopichand) time and more recently through women,” Rajaraman said.

“But to see them together as a team, it got the whole country excited.”

Now 48, Gopichand has been chosen to be the architect of India’s recent badminton success after mentoring Sindhu, Saina and Srikanth, who briefly became world number one in April 2018.

“It is an unprecedented success,” Indian media quoted Gopichand as saying.

“What our boys achieved is unbelievable. It was my dream. I believe we can build on this success.”

The Gopichand Academy – a state-of-the-art badminton facility in the south Indian city of Hyderabad – has become synonymous with success.

“Almost every player must have played with Gopi or his academy at one point or another,” Rajaraman said.

“I think that kind of selfless attitude of his, where he has got foreign coaches in his academy as well, has helped India become a better badminton nation.”

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