India’s chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand has been acknowledged by the International Olympic Committee for his contribution to the sport. The 46-year-old, who won the All-England in 2001, is India’s first to win an “honourable mention” in the male category of the prestigious 2019 IOC’s Coaches Lifetime Achievement Award. For the past three years, these awards have recognised the work of coaches who developed and nurtured athletes in the spirit of Olympism. The 2019 winners were athletics coach Malcolm Arnold from Great Britain and artistic gymnastics coach Ulla Koch from Germany. Since 2008, Gopichand has been running his own academy in Hyderabad, for which he had pledged family property to raise a loan. After he retired prematurely due to injury, Gopichand’s scientific methodology and uncompromising approach towards intense training has produced quality shuttlers such as Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu and Kidambi Srikkanth. A Padma Bhusan, Gopichand spoke to Soumitra Bose on his life as a coach. Excerpts:
What does this award mean to you?