``I’m happy and thrilled,’’ said Pullela Gopichand, who was chosen for Padma Bhushan award for 2014. The 2001 All-England badminton champion, who is one of the well-decorated sportspersons of the country, has turned into a successful coach after retirement. A delighted Gopichand has said the award is perhaps in recognition for his hard work. ``It is a victory for the game. I am happy that today India is recognised as one of the powerhouses of world badminton,’’ the 40-year-old said from Lucknow where the Indian Grand Prix Gold tournament is being held.
Gopichand has said the award means a lot to him. “I have to work much harder to make India one of the best badminton-playing nations. I am encouraged by the performances of many youngsters,’’ he said.
Having been credited for producing champion players like Saina Nehwal (London Olympic bronze medallist), PV Sindhu (world champion bronze medallist), Parupalli Kashyap, K Srikanth and many others, he has turned Hyderabad into a badminton hub. The city now boasts of one of the best badminton facilities in the country.
Gopichand has so far received a string of awards which include the Arjuna Award, Padma Sri, Rajiv Khel Ratna Award, Dronacharya Award, and now the Padma Bhushan adds another feather to his glittering cap.