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Pullela Gopichand (born on November 16, 1973 in Nagandla of Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh) is an Indian Badminton player. He won the All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001 defeating Chen Hong of China in the finals by 15-12,15-6. He became the second Indian to achieve this feat after Prakash Padukone, who won it in 1980. He was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the year 2001. But later on, his game was affected due to injuries and his ranking dropped to 126 in the year 2003. In 2005, he was awarded the Padma Shri. In 2012, former Indian Badminton player Sanjay Sharma & Shachi Sharma have written a biography on him titled " Pullela Gopichand: The World Beneath His Feet." Now, he runs the Gopichand Badminton Academy. He is now a very renowned coach who received the Dronacharya Award and is the main force behind the emergence of Saina Nehwal.

Early life

Pullela Gopichand was born on November 16, 1973 to Pullela Shubhash Chandra and Subbaravamma. Initially Gopichand was more interested in playing Cricket, but later his elder brother Rajashekar initiated him to take up the game of Badminton instead. He studied at the St. Paul’s School, and even when he was only 10, his prowess in the game of Badminton had become an issue to be discussed in the School. Gopichand suffered a ligament rupture in the year 1986 when he was 13. He had won the Singles and the Doubles title at the Inter School Competition the same year. Undeterred by the injury, he bounced back soon and reached the Final round of the Andhra Pradesh State Junior Badminton Championship, only to lose the title to his own elder brother. By the year 1988, when he finished his schooling, Gopichand had made a mark for himself in the Badminton circuit. He joined A. V. College, Hyderabad and graduated in Public Administration. He was the Captain of the Indian Combined Universities Badminton team in the years 1990 and 1991. Gopi received his initial coaching from S. M. Arif before Prakash Padukone accepted him in the BPL Prakash Padukone Academy. Gopi also received training under Ganguly Prasad at the SAI Bangalore. Gopichand married fellow Olympian badminton player P.V.V Lakshmi on June 5, 2002. Lakshmi is also from Andhra Pradesh, home state of Gopichand.

Awards and honours

To commemorate his excellent achievements as a badminton player at both national and international level, the Government of India awarded him the Arjuna Award in the year 1999. Further in 2001, he was bestowed upon the highest Indian honour in the field of sports, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. After he won The All England Badminton championship, the Government of Andhra Pradesh rewarded him with a cash prize and a plot in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad as a token of appreciation. In the year 2005, he was conferred the Padma Shri Award. He received the Dronacharya Award on 29 August 2009 for his contribution to Indian badminton as a coach

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