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Pullela Gopichand: The man behind India’s rise in Badminton World

The amazing run of P.V. Sindhu at the Rio Olympics has brought the focus on her celebrated coach and his academy

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(Representational Image) Badminton. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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HYDERABAD, August 20, 2016: If there is one person and one academy which helped India produce world-class shuttlers or champions and emerge as a badminton hotbed, it’s none other than Pullela Gopichand and his badminton academy here, in Hyderabad.

Sixteen years after his heart-breaking defeat at the Sydney Olympics, Gopichand came close to realising his Olympic dream, albeit in a different role.

The amazing run of P.V. Sindhu at the Rio Olympics has brought the focus on her celebrated coach and his academy here.

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Sindhu, who created history by bagging silver in the women’s singles event, is one of the products of Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy.

Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Sindhu is the second woman shuttler after Saina Nehwal to take the badminton world by storm and bring laurels to the academy set up by former All England Open Champion.

Analysts say the credit of turning India into a formidable force in the world of badminton goes to the 42-year-old, who has groomed world-class talents.

Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap, Prannoy Kumar, Arundhati Pantawane, Gurusai Datt and Arun Vishnu are other products of his academy who have made it big in the game.

Gopichand always had dreams of producing Olympic medallists. His efforts started yielding results with Saina bagging bronze in the 2012 London Olympics.

She became the first Indian woman shuttler to achieve the feat. Four years later, Gopichand’s dream again came true with Sindhu reaching the final and losing there only to World No.1 Carolina Marin.

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Gopi spotted talent in Sindhu when she started training at the academy at the age of 10.

The academy set up in 2008, with an eight-court badminton hall, is rated one of the best in Asia.

Gopi has proved what a turnaround a good institution can provide. He not only mobilised funds and created world-class infrastructure but identified and groomed those talents.

Players narrate how he involves himself in training them and improving their technique.

“Sometime I feel bad that inspite being down with cold and fever, he comes to the academy to train Sindhu and other players,” said Sindhu’s father P.V. Ramana, a former volleyball player.

In 2001, Gopi won the All England Open Championship to become only the second Indian after Prakash Padukone to lift the title. He admitted that the win came a bit late in his career.

Injuries forced Gopi to go for an early retirement but he decided to don the role of a coach and create a world class infrastructure to fill the vacuum.

The then government of united Andhra Pradesh allotted five acres of land to Gopichand in Gachibowli to set up an international badminton academy. Surrounded by campuses of several IT majors, it started functioning in 2008.

In March this year, Gopichand opened the second academy in the same area. Known as SportsAuthority of India (SAI)-Gopichand Academy, it has nine courts and can accommodate 60 trainees.

The twin academies together have 17 courts and can train 130 players. However, this is not sufficient to meet the huge demand, which picked up during the last five years.

Looking for talent across the country, Gopi set up academies in Gwalior, Vadodara, Tanuka (Andhra Pradesh) and Salem (Tamil Nadu). He also plans to open more including one in Greater Noida. (IANS)

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.