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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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The Families Of Victims In Railway Accident Incident In India Stage Protests

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the accident a "heart-wrenching tragedy" and asked officials to provide immediate assistance to the injured.

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People gather at the site of an accident after a train traveling at high speed ploughed through a crowd of people on rail tracks near Amritsar, India. VOA

Angry relatives of the scores of people who were killed in India when they were run over by a speeding train staged protests Saturday while one of the country’s railway officials maintains the railway is not responsible for the tragic accident.

The train was traveling at high speed when it ploughed through a crowd Friday at a religious festival on the outskirts of the northern city of Amritsar, killing 59 people, Punjab state’s Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, told reporters Saturday. Singh said 57 others were injured and an official investigation would be carried out over the next four weeks.

The Jalandhar-Amritsar express was traveling at 90 kilometers per hour when it hit the crowd, which had gathered on the tracks to watch a fireworks display marking the Hindu festival of Dussehra.

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The Hindu festival of Dussehra.

Hundreds of relatives of the victims engaged in sporadic protests on and near the tracks Saturday, calling for action against local authorities and the train operator, who was questioned Saturday by police.

Authorities moved the protestors off the tracks and brought in reinforcements to control the crowd.

‘No lapse on our part’

The railway accident was India’s worst in years, but the junior minister who manages Indian Railways, the world’s fourth largest rail system, refused to accept responsibility.

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A man mourns next to the burning pyre of a family member who died after a train traveling at high speed ploughed through a crowd of people, at a cremation site in Amritsar, India. VOA

“Railways cannot be blamed. Railways were not informed about the ceremony,” Manoj Sinha told reporters Saturday. Speaking to reporters, Sinha ruled out any punitive action against his staff, saying, “There was no lapse on our part and no action against the driver will be initiated.”

Local government officials said the festival takes place every year on the outskirts of Amritsar and that railroad authorities are alerted to run the trains at slow speeds.

Witnesses said the victims did not realize the train was coming because of the sound of the fireworks and celebrations.

‘Heart-wrenching’

Some witnesses said the train did not sound its whistle as it sped past the festival site.

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With India, Indian Railway is also digitizing, Pixels

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the accident a “heart-wrenching tragedy” and asked officials to provide immediate assistance to the injured.

Also Read: India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India’s railway network remains the main form of travel in the vast country, where railway accidents are relatively common.

Millions of Hindus celebrate the Dussehra festival by burning giant effigies of the demon Ravana, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. (VOA)