“I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable.” –John Russell, MD, Harley-Davidson Europe
A person who teaches and trains an athlete, and directs the game strategy is called a Coach. So, in those terms Pullela Gopichand, a Dronacharya awardee and a highly accomplished badminton player is a coach. Who has he coached? His students are Saina Nehwal, World No.1 & Olympic bronze medallist, Srikanth Kidambi, currently the highest ranked Indian men’s player in the world circuit at 11th position and PV Sindhu, Silver medalist at Rio Olympics, 2016.
What makes Pullela’s achievements so great is the fact that he’s achieved this incredible feat without the state support. He has doggedly pursued his dream of churning out world-beaters even at the cost of mortgaging his house and taking refuge in his own personal heroics. Pullela is the winner of the All England badminton championship in 2001; the only other Indian who has achieved this feat is Prakash Padukone in 1980.
Pullela’s approach is noteworthy and unique, because he walks the talk. He has single-handedly changed the perception towards badminton and garnered a lot of respect for the game. His disciplined and perfectionist attitude does not let his students take any other route except the one that leads to the podium. Pullela reaches the academy at 4 am, and works tirelessly with his students till late evening. Such is his commitment to the cause that Pullela lost kilos in the last few months before the Olympics to stay super fit so that he could be a sparring partner for Sindhu & Srikanth.
Sindhu has just won the coveted silver at the Rio Olympics 2016, and I’m reminded of Guru Dronacharya & his famous disciple Arjuna. Coincidentally, Pullela is the recipient of Dronacharya award, and Sindhu is an Arjuna awardee, who today has done the nation proud. One can only imagine the years of hard work, training, dedication and perseverance, on both fronts, that went into etching this historic moment.
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