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Pullela Gopi Chand: The World Beneath His Feat

Story of badminton star who brought laurels to India by winning the coveted All England Championships 2001. Here's an exclsuive extract from the book.

books Updated: Nov 30, 2011 12:52 IST
Hindustan Times

Prologue, pg xvi, 3rd paragraph

‘I had nothing else to live for. Badminton was the only thing I knew. The only thing that brought me joy and the only thing that I was good at. I knew that I had the guts in me to go for glory and beyond.’

Ch.6 Mind over Matter, pg 91, 2nd last paragraph

Gopi fell first and Raghavan fell on top of his left knee, crushing it. Gopi did not hear anything break but instantly knew that something had gone horribly wrong, as his leg seemed twisted at an awkward angle. Despite that, he refused to believe that his knee had shattered as the rebel in him surfaced, forcing him to carry on with the match he was so very desperate to win, not knowing that had he carried on, he would have been crippled for life.

Ch 7, pg 130, 2nd para 8th line

The run-up to the All England also showed how badly our national team members were treated by the BAI. To go to the championships being played at Birmingham, Gopi had to shell out `20,000 of his own to meet the expenses. Th e BAI only got a free ticket from Air India for Gopi and Dipankar, who were, for all intents and purposes, the top two players representing India. They never bothered about the other expenses and forced these two to pay up by whatever means they could.

Ch 13, pg 241-242

This was the moment of my life – I was at the precipice of achieving a great victory. I just took a deep breath, served and waited for his return, which somehow I thought would be a fl ick on my forehand side. Luck favoured me again, after this great fi ght between us, I had to win an easy point. I saw his return easily, anticipated the speed of the bird and just blocked it, heaved a sigh of relief as the shuttle caught the tape, just rolled over, leaving Chen Hong standing helpless. I had won, and this all that mattered.

Ch 15

But what was bewildering was the BAI’s total lack of understanding of the situation. Gopi had brought Saina up to World Number Two spot with dedication and hard work, training her since she was thirteen years old. She had already proved to be the best badminton player produced by the country, having won four Super Series titles and a host of other major events such as the Commonwealth Games gold for singles. The BAI should have interfered and allowed Gopi to concentrate and train Saina alone, at least till the 2012 Olympics, simply because as a combination, the two had proved to be devastatingly successful. No Indian player was a patch on her when it came to world rankings or global standards. Unfortunately, by staying silent and not even trying to understand the situation, the BAI frittered away a chance to seek a reconciliation between the two. …Perhaps it was because the BAI was itself embroiled in a bitter feud internally …

First Published: Nov 30, 2011 12:52 IST