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India at the Commonwealth Games: Prakash Padukone's tryst with history

India at the Commonwealth Games: Prakash Padukones tryst with history

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Published: 19 March 2018 7:54 AM GMT
With Prakash Padukone stepping on to the court, badminton in India would never be the same again. He won the national senior as well as junior championship in 1972, at only 16, thereby becoming the youngest player to have achieved the feat. He went on to defend that title for the next seven years. In 1978, Padukone became the first ever Indian to win gold in badminton at the Commonwealth Games. He defeated Derek Talbot in straight games and with that, he put India on the world map of a Badminton. His successful run continued with him turning into gold, whatever he touched. Only two years later, Padukone enjoyed the twin success of becoming the first Indian to win the All England Open while also becoming the world number 1 in the sport. He went on to win the Swedish as well as Danish Opens and proved himself to be worthy of the world number one position, especially when he beat his own idol Indonesian Badminton star Rudy Hartono, also in 1980 at the Swedish Open. Following his success through 1978 and 1980,
Padukone was promoted rapidly
to become one of the youngest officers at Union bank of India and could have lived a comfortable and secure life. But he was made for bigger stuff and he took off for Denmark on a risky one year contract with the Danish League. Padukone's dedication to the sport remains transparent for all to see even today. Only three years after his retirement, he opened the Prakash Padukone Academy which gave birth to Indian Badminton Champions like P Gopichand, Aparna Popat, Ashwini Ponnappa. Today, Gopichand is carrying the weight of India's success on his shoulders, much like Padukone did.Padukone also went on to co-found the Olympic Gold Quest which is dedicated to the promotion of Olympic sports in India. With the OGQ and the Prakash Padukone Academy, he is doing his bit by making sure that no one who has the game and the wish, has to practise in empty wedding halls to fetch medals. In 2010, India went back to winning habits at the Commonwealth Games and now, it is to be seen how far the track record is maintained at the GoldCoast this year.
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