Gopi goes down the memory lane

Gopi goes down  the memory lane

 “Post-lunch sessions are the most difficult sessions,” remarked a panelist while opening a presentation which was advanced to the morning session. “It is difficult as a speaker to keep the audience interested while the audience too face a hard time in staying glued following a good meal!”

However, that was not the case for badminton ace Pullela Gopichand. The Hyderabadi, who won plenty of fans and adulation when he clinched the All England Championship in 2001, had the gathering at the Athletes Conclave in awe with a heart-rending recollection of his life, struggles and triumphing in an event most shuttlers dream of.

“It feels like a long time now and it seems like someone else has won it,” said the soft-spoken Gopichand here on Wednesday. “I wanted to win the All England because I was passionate about it and wanted to prove people who criticised me wrong. Sometimes you want to win because some people think you can’t. Sometimes you want to win because people think you can.

“Many of us don’t realise what we have until it has been taken away from us. When I was away from the sport because of various injuries, I realised what I missed. It hurt me a lot and I always kept dreaming about achieving something big,” added the 39-year-old.

Although Gopichand captured the Holy Grail of badminton in spectacular fashion defeating Chen Hong of China 15-12, 15-6, the five-time national champion endured many serious injuries that almost nipped his career even before it could blossom.

He suffered first major injury at the age of 18 that kept him out for nearly two years. He made a comeback in 1994 only to damage his left knee, forcing another absence in 1998. He then enjoyed a fine three-year spell but over-exertion on the right knee made him go under the knife in 2001.

The numerous injuries, Gopichand felt made him a stronger person. “Lot of players have won many titles which I didn’t. I won that mattered most to me. Lying in the bed unable to walk, I always kept dreaming about winning  the All England. I strongly believe that if you keep dreaming about something and keep working towards it then even the universe conspires to help you. Winning is about doing even small things right. For example, a doctor told me not to walk too much as that would reduce the mileage of my knees.

“You guys won’t believe that I hardly used to walk. After training hard, I just hit the bed. I limited my walking until I achieved my goal. I just kept dreaming about winning the All England --  that’s it. In the end, I’m so happy that I was able to satisfy a major dream of mine. The limited walking may sound weird but these little things make a lot of difference.”

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