Bolila Gopichand is a former Indian badminton player who is famous for nurturing mega talents like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap. Gopichand brought back the limelight in 2001 after winning the All England Open Badminton Championship, becoming the second Indian to achieve this milestone after the legendary Prakash Padukone. Gopichand is currently the Chief National Coach for the India National Badminton Team, he has led India to their first victory in the Thomas Cup and created history.
As the legendary badminton player and coach celebrates his 48th birthday, let’s have a look at some lesser-known facts from his life:
- He was born in a small village in Andhra Pradesh
Pullela Gopichand was born in a small town called Cherala, in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh state. His family then moved to Nizamabad, where he attended St. Paul’s High School.
- Initially he had an interest in cricket
Like most Indian teenagers, Gopichand was fascinated by the game of cricket and wanted to pursue a career as a batsman. However, his elder brother encouraged him to try badminton and put a racquet in his hands, a decision that changed the Indian badminton scenario.
- He won the world No. 1 in 2001
Gopichand won the All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham in 2001. In the semi-finals, he defeated then world number one Peter Gade before defeating Chen Hong of China to win the coveted tournament.
- Gopichand family
On 5 June 2002, Gopichand married fellow shuttle driver and longtime girlfriend PVV Lakshmi. The couple has two children. Their daughter is a budding badminton player who is following in her parents’ footsteps.
- Bolila Gopichand Badminton Academy
In 2008, Gopichand founded the Bolela Gopichand Badminton Academy. The academy has produced many world-class badminton players and is the third highest performing center in India.
- Awards and honors
For his tireless efforts in Indian badminton, Gopichand was honored with the Arjuna Award in 1999, the Dronacharya Award in 2009, and the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, in 2014.
- Gopichand at the Olympic Games
Under Gopichand’s tutelage, Saina Nehwal went on to win a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He was again the coach of the PV Sindhu team that won a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics and a bronze medal at the pandemic-hit 2020 Olympics. Bolella was also the coach of the Indian Olympic badminton team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
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