International badminton marks its return today for the first time since the All England Open in March 2020. After a late withdrawal from the tournament by Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap, the Indians have all their hopes pinned on the young Lakshya Sen and former World No.1 Kidambi Srikanth.
While the Indian contingent would be hoping for a win, the fact remains that only three Indians have won the Demark Open prior to this. Saina Nehwal had won the women’s singles in 2012 while Kidambi Srikanth clinched the men’s event in 2017. The only other victory for India in Denmark came way back in 1980, when Prakash Padukone beat Morten Frost 15-7, 18-13 in the final. This was a landmark victory for Indian badminton; as this marked the beginning of a winning spree for Prakash who famously went on to win the All England Open Championship and the Swedish Open back to back.
While the victory against his close friend Morten Frost in Demark provided a solid evidence of what was to come in the coming few years, the victory at the All England Championship proved that Prakash was here to stay. That triumph was something very special as Prakash not only defeated the Smash King – Liem Swie King by a convincing margin of 15-3, 15-10, but also became the first ever Indian to win the men’s singles at the All England Championship. What made this victory even sweeter was the fact that King had not dropped even a single set in the tournament before he met Prakash Padukone in the final.
Prakash continued his golden run in the next tournament, the Swedish Open, as he fought back from a set down to beat his idol Rudy Hartono 9-15, 15-12, 15-1 and seal his third successive tournament win. After this win against Hartono, Prakash famously went on to say, “I could have beaten him 15-0 in the last game but I couldn’t do that to my idol, I conceded a point and finished the game.”
These three consecutive tournament wins also meant that Prakash Padukone became the first ever Indian to be ranked World Number 1 in badminton. This time period during the year 1980 was well and truly a golden age for Indian badminton; and as the game returns after a seven month long hiatus, Indians along with Prakash Padukone would certainly be hoping for the history to repeat itself.