Gobadminton desk Image Courtesy:
20 Mar, 2017
Prakash Padukone, the badminton legend who has his brand name for
badminton in India after his ‘All England Badminton Championship’ title in 1980
and it is the first ever prestigious title in the Indian badminton history.
Badminton had marked turning point in India after his ‘All England’ title. In
winning the All England, Padukone defeated two of the all-time greats of modern
badminton - Morten Frost of Denmark, a four-time winner, in the semi-final, and
the Indonesian legend Liem Swie King, a three-time winner, in the final.
Being the badminton admirer, his father Ramesh Padukone introduced
badminton to Prakash Padukone. His father was the Secretary of the Mysore
Badminton Association. Slowly, Prakash Padukone had developed interest in the
sport. Initially it was tough for him. He lost in his first official
tournament, Karnataka State Junior Championship in 1962. His loss confronted
Later, he achieved couple of titles with sheer hard work; State
Junior Championship in 1964 and National Junior Badminton Championship in 1970.
This achievement boosted him to the next level and this didn’t stop him. He won
many national games and finally the National Senior Championship in 1971. By
the time he achieved this feat, he was just 16 years old. At this tender age he
was awarded ‘Arjuna Award’ in 1972. That couldn’t be easy to get the award.
Between the timeline from junior level to senior level, he happened
to encounter the top seed of his time and his role model, Rudy Hartono of
Indonesia and keenly observed his playing strategy. He adopted the playing
style of aggressiveness which befriended him to win many titles straight 9
Padukone shifted to Denmark for his badminton training. It was
quite late for him to win the first international match. He made it to Thomas
Cup Championship in 1978. Prior to that, he won bronze medal at Asian Games
held at Tehran in 1974. He won a Gold Medal at the Edmonton Commonwealth Games
1978, beating Derek Talbot of England. This was the first major international
title Prakash had won, followed by the English Masters Championship in 1979
held at Royal Albert Hall, London. Further, he won the Danish Open and the
Swedish Open Championships in the year 1980.
During the time when Indians know barely about badminton, Prakash
Padukone scaled the heights by winning ‘All England Championship’ title in 1980
and made this sport familiar to the fellow Indians. That was the turning point
in the badminton history. It was his dream come true to be No. 1 seed in the
badminton ranking from 1980 to 1981. He was first ever and only Indian so far
to achieve the top most seed. He felt very confident when he won Denmark Open and
Swedish Open within two weeks in 1980. He won World Cup held at Kuala Lumpur in
1981, Bronze Medalist at World Championships held at Copenhagen in 1983, Dutch
Open and Hong Kong Open in 1982. He was ranked in the top 5 in the world for
over 5 years. He was conferred upon ‘Padma Shri’ award in 1982.
If we discuss injuries, in 1979 he couldn’t play due to trouble in
his foot during Denmark Open. He originally got through foot injury during
Indian Test series against Malaysia on the ‘cement courts’ in Penang.
In 1989, Padukone took retirement from badminton. He served as the
chairman of the Badminton Association of India for a short while. He also served
as the coach of the Indian national badminton team from 1993 to 1996. After
winning All England, he never won it again.
Yet, the historic win kept his name forever in the badminton. He
was very overwhelmed that his win brought him name and fame. On October 1st
1994, Padukone has launched his own Badminton Academy by the name ‘Prakash
Padukone Badminton Academy’ in Bangalore. Since then his academy has been training
many young badminton aspirers.