In the year 1980, a man called Prakash Padukone came into the spotlight when he became the first Indian to win the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championship. That was the high point of his spectacular sporting career, which also resulted in him receiving the Arjuna and Padmashri awards from the Indian government.
The Early Years of Prakash Padukone
Prakash Padukone was born on 10th June 1955 in Bangalore, Karnataka. He started playing badminton during his childhood and showed steady progress, winning the State Level Junior Title at age nine and the National Junior and Senior titles around the time he was 17. His winning streak at the National level continued for another seven years.
His Mark in the International Arena
Prakash was the first among the rare breed of Indian badminton players who have found success on foreign shores. He won the gold medal in the men’s singles event at the 1978 Commonwealth games in Canada. That was the beginning of a glorious period during which he emerged triumphant at important tournaments such as Evening of Champions, Danish Open, Swedish Open and finally – the most prestigious of them all – the All England Championship.
He continued to play for a few more years, before retiring in 1991. At the peak of his career, Prakash drew many fans with his elegant strokes and complete command over feather-touch badminton. He was known to be a gentleman both on and off the court.
His Post Retirement Activities
Prakash is currently involved in running the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, which he launched in 1994 along with two other reputed badminton players like Vimal Kumar and Vivek Kumar.
The academy is aimed at providing top quality training, resources and guidance to youngsters who have the potential to become professional badminton players. Pullela Gopichand, who won the All England Championship in 2001, trained for a particular period at this academy.
Other Interesting Facets Of Prakash Padukone
In a June 2011 interview with Mid Day, Prakash has said that he idolized the Indonesian badminton great Rudy Hartono, and that the occasions when he emerged victorious against Rudy remain some of the most cherished moments of his career.
Prakash was very good friends with Morten Frost, a badminton professional from Denmark. In 2006, Prakash and Frost even played an exhibition match at the Karnataka Badminton Association’s court in Bangalore.
Prakash and the well known billiards player Geet Sethi have co-founded the Olympic Gold Quest which is aimed at promoting sports in India. Touchplay, Prakash’s authorized biography, was released in 2006. The book has been authored by a sports journalist named Dev Sukumar.
Both his daughters are turning out to be famous in their respective fields, Deepika Padukone in film world and Anisha is golf.