India might have never seen Pullela Gopichand if not for a flunked IIT exam. Gopichand himself made the reveal, while discussing how sports requires commitment from both parents and sacrifices and sometimes luck also plays a part.
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Gopichand went on to become only the second Indian, after Prakash Padukone, to win the All England title in 2001. Soon after he retired and decided to open his own academy. “My brother and I both played sports.” said Gopichand. “He was fantastic in sports and now I feel that I was lucky I wasn’t good in studies.”
Gopichand faced numerous hardships on the way to opening his academy. Recalling one such incident, Gopichand said: “I remember having gone to a certain PSU few years back. I was made to wait for three continuous days outside the room when they promised me support for badminton but after waiting from 9 in the morning to 5:30 in the evening after three days a certain officer at a high position came up to me and said that badminton doesn’t have the eyeballs to be a world sport.”
“That was the last day I had gone ahead and asked anybody for sponsorship. The same night I went back home and thanks to my parents and wife, we mortgaged our house and that is how the academy came up,” he continued.
He also revealed that he hadn’t expected to achieve his dreams of Olympic medals in badminton so soon. “I started the academy in 2004 with 25 young kids. Sindhu was one of my youngest kid at about eight years and P Kashyap was the oldest at 15. When I started coaching I had this dream that India would win an Olympic medal someday. I didn’t know that we could so soon in 2012 win our first medal,” he said.
He also said that though he has been treated shabbily by people from the government, in the past, he was also grateful for all the people who had supported him in life. “God has been very kind in my lifetime, whenever I have had problems He has sent somebody for help,” he said.
Sindhu’s father, PV Ramana revealed that the same people who had earlier criticised him for allowing his daughter to take up sports as a career, were now lauding him for his daughter’s achievements.
“Unless and until we don’t sacrifice or put in some hard work we don’t get the fruit which Sindhu has done and she has got the fruits of it,” he added.
“Parents instead of pressurising their kids should come forward to support them in whichever field they want and then surely the child will also try to repay it back through the hard work and my daughter has done that to me,” he concluded.