Prakash Padukone: A Turning Point in Indian Badminton
Prakash Padukone, a Badminton legend, was a turning point in India concerning badminton. After he won the All England Championships in 1980, he defined the word ‘badminton’ in India. Also, he was the first Indian to claim the prestigious title. He beat two of the legends in badminton while winning the title- Morten Frost of Denmark, a four-time winner, in the semi-final, and the Indonesian legend Liem Swie King, a three-time winner, in the final.
He was ranked World no. 1 in 1980 and is the first Indian badminton player to achieve this rank. Prakash Padukone’s father, Ramesh Padukone, who was the secretary of Mysore Badminton Association, introduced him to badminton. Prakash slowly got familiar with the sport and won his first tournament in 1964 at the State Junior Championship. In 1972, the 16-year-old won the National Junior Badminton Championship. Moreover, he won the senior title the same year. At such a tender age, he was awarded the Arjuna Award.
Padukone won the National title consecutively for the next eight years. Later on, he shifted to Denmark for better training, and his first international title came in 1978 at the Commonwealth Games in Canada. In 1979, he won the ‘Evening of Champions’ at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
The year 1980 was the one which outshined him. It was in this year that he won the Danish Open, Swedish Open, and the prestigious All England title. With this victory, he made the sport popular in India, where people were not aware of it. He was the first-ever Indian to achieve a top seed of World no. 1. In 1981, he won the World Cup held at Kuala Lampur and a bronze medal at the World Championships in 1983.
For five years, he was ranked in the Top 5 in the World. In 1982, he was conferred with the Padma Shri award for his contribution to badminton. He retired from the sport in 1991 and served as the Chairman of the Badminton Association of India from 1993 to 1996.
In 1994, he launched his academy, Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy to help aspiring shuttlers attain glory for the country. Also, he is the co-founder of the Olympic Gold Quest, which is dedicated to the promotion of Olympic Sports in India.
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