From Denmark, with respect

From Denmark, with respect

Morten Frost, Viswanathan Anand and Prakash Padukone at the Padukone-Dravid Centre of Sports Excellence in Bengaluru on Tuesday. DH photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Around four decades ago, a budding young Danish badminton player called Morten Frost sought the help of an accomplished Prakash Padukone in a bid to become a better player. Frost, following regular training sessions in Denmark and plenty of top-class matches with Padukone, ended up becoming one of the greatest ever to hold the racquet.

Now, Frost is in Bengaluru to return the favour to his friend Padukone whose academy (PPBA) is celebrating its silver jubilee. After being pitched the idea of working as a coach at PPBA a few years ago by Padukone, Frost expressed his interest when things between him and the Malaysian federation soured. Padukone, who wanted Frost on board to further enhance the image of the academy and give aspiring kids a chance to work with a world-class mind, didn't blink twice before rolling out the red carpet.

"When I was in Malaysia between 2015-17, I got a request from Prakash if I was interested in coming to the academy here," said Frost during an interaction at the Padukone Dravid Centre of Excellence on Tuesday after coming on board as a consultant coach. "We tried a few things but it never did work out. When I was terminating my contract with Malaysia and was moving back to Denmark, I still felt I had a lot to give. I still feel the passion, I like to be with the players on the court, I enjoy that.

"I contacted Prakash and asked him if he was still interested in the situation and he said 'Yes, of course, we are still interested'. He said he needed to get Olympic Gold Quest involved in this. I'm happy to be part of that. Hopefully, I can make a little difference. I've been working with a lot of young players, countless in fact. That experience I have, so hopefully, I can help some of the players here."

The 60-year-old Frost, a four-time All England Badminton Championship winner and two-time World Championship silver medallist, paid rich tribute to Padukone. "Prakash made that bold move to come and play in Denmark, that was something which was very very different. I remember he arrived on a snowy December day in Denmark -- he saw snow for the first time and it was quite an amazing experience for him. We started training every day, every morning we met at a certain time and trained hard for a few hours. He simply raised my game.

"He was a better player than me when he arrived but I turned out to become better than him when he left. But he was also five years older than me. And I still think Prakash was able to elevate my game, raise it to a standard I did not have before he came. I owe him a lot for that. The way we practised together, it was a very pleasant rivalry. We always played in good spirits but the rivalry was fearsome, in the sense that none of us wanted to lose. It was extremely competitive but always in very good spirit. I like that a lot, it was very civilised," said Frost, who was inducted into the BWF Hall of Fame in 1998.