Prakash Padukone and his All-England championship victory in 1980 had firmed up India’s relationship with badminton, and Pullela Gopichand’s win in the All England in 2001 cemented it. But it is the last decade that saw a definite transformation in Indian badminton—a decade in which Gopichand moved into coaching with his eponymous academy in Hyderabad.
Gopichand’s band of racquet-wielding champions, among them Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, B. Sai Praneeth and a host of others, have excelled on the world stage. Since 2011, India has bagged a medal in every edition of the World Championship, not to mention Saina’s Olympic bronze in 2012 and Sindhu’s silver in 2016.
What is behind India’s emergence on the world badminton stage? What obstacles threatened to derail this project? What lies ahead in the future? Abhijeet S. Kulkarni, who has closely followed the new energy in the sport from its early years, delves deep into the heart of it to write of the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into this unprecedented success story.
Partly an investigation of the sport in India, and partly a deep dive into the coaching techniques and mental strategies that have aided its transformation, The Gopichand Factor is the definitive history of the rise and rise of Indian badminton.