Wards of praise for Gopi's academy - The New Indian Express

Wards of praise for Gopi's academy

Published: 17th August 2013 12:15 PM

Last Updated: 17th August 2013 12:15 PM

As the IBL enters its second round, a glance at the list of players in the six teams reveals that there are at least two or three in each of them, who hail from Hyderabad or train at the Pullela Gopichand Academy (PGA).

The success story of Saina Nehwal, P Kashyap, PV Sindhu, Gurusaidutt and Kidambi Srikanth has triggered tremendous enthusiasm and brought to the fore immense hitherto unkown talent.

These players, who are often sparring partners at the academy, have an opportunity to showcase their talent on a more competitive platform. That more than 20 players in action in the IBL hail from Andhra Pradesh, is enough indication of the popularity and success of the sport in the state.

What started as a trickle after Gopichand won the All-England Championship, has turned into a flowing river of talent.

The Gopichand Academy is a sea of activity. Starting from four in the morning, there are endless practice sessions and there is a belief among parents that this is the place where their children can carve out a career in badminton.

Not only parents from the city, but people from outside the state have also sent requests to admit their children in the academy.

Subbaravamma, mother of Gopichand, admits that there is a demand for admissions. “We can't take more players now.. We are helpless,” she said.

What is more interesting is that among this crowd of players, there are children of internationals like PV Ramana (volleyball), Mukesh Kumar (hockey) and Gopichand himself.

Even as Ramana's daughter Sindhu has already carved a niche for herself, the daughters of Mukesh (Yeshaswini) and Gopichand (Gayathri) are the next big hopes. Yeshaswini's parents Mukesh and Nidhi represented India. Their daughter started as a hockey player before turning to badminton two years ago. The 13-year-old has won a couple of local tournaments this year in her category. Residing 26kms from the academy, Mukesh and Nidhi take their daughter to the academy by 3.30am.

“She has suddenly taken a lot of interest in the game. She is very serious now and winning some tournaments,” says Mukesh.

The 10-year-old Gayathri with her younger brother Vishnu practise vigorously at the academy. They have already tasted success in local tournaments.

 PVV Lakshmi, wife of Gopichand and who was the first Indian woman to play badminton at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992, says her children got attracted to the game because of their father's success story and also the feats of Saina.

“They practise seriously and have won a couple of tournaments,” says Lakshmi. So watch out for Mukesh and Gopi's children. Blessed with the sporting genes of their parents, they could be the new kids on the badminton block.

Apart from the Gopichand Academy, Dronacharya award winner and former national coach SM Arif has his camp at the Lal Bahadur Indoor Stadium. “Yes, this city has turned into a badminton hub. It is nice to see so many players interested and bringing success to the game,” he says.

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