Happy Birthday, Prakash Padukone: The man who advanced an aspect of badminton in India

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Born on 10 June 1955, Prakash Padukone has ruled the badminton era for almost a decade. From losing his first career match in Karnataka state junior championship,(1962) to becoming one of the toughest competitors in the field of badminton, the man remarks an inspirational journey for the inspiring badminton players. He won the men’s singles gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada. In 1979, he won the “Evening of Champions” at the Royal Albert Hall, London. He had greatly dominated europian players, in the 1980s to win ‘Danish open and Swedish open’. He demolished the ‘defending -associated’ winning charm of Liem Swie King of Indonesia, by winning the All England Club.

He got the rank of “World’s no. 1 badminton player”, and his aim was to make India reach the top and in the consistent zone, in the world map, as he said, “My 1980 victory would undoubtedly go down as a historical event in Indian Badminton. I was delighted that I was able to win this prestigious event despite many odds. More than my personal triumph, I was happy that Indian Badminton got the recognition as a major world leader in the sport.” He was honored Arjuna award in 1972, Bharat Ratna, the Padma Shri award, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan(all of them in 1982), winner of first open prize money tournament in 1981 and winner of gold medal at Common-wealth games in 1978, The pioneer of badminton has powerful collection of achievements on his wall of passion.

The most inspiring and motivational aspect of his career was, when he defeated his own idol “Rudy Hartono”, in the Swedish Open. He had his heart completely engrossed in the conventionally called word badminton game. Actually for him it was not just a game, it was his life, as signified by the well established fact that he is running his coaching center (PPBA)-Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Banglore, which he started in 1994 with the help of Vimal Kumar and Vivek Kumar(his fellow badminton players), when the potential of his venture was engrossed by BPL(Bharat Petroleum Limited). He had served as the chief of Badminton Association in India and has founded the Olympic gold quest in India, for the promotion of the respective sport. Apart from a great player, Prakash Padukone is also a great father.

In 61st Filmfare awards, he wrote a letter for his daughter(actress-Deepika Padukone) on the topic of following her dreams. The letter is as follows:-

Dear Deepika & Anisha, As you stand on the threshold of life’s journey, I want to share with you some lessons that life has taught me. Decades ago, as a little boy growing up in Bangalore, I started my tryst with badminton. In those days, there were no stadiums and courts where sports people could train. Our badminton court was the wedding hall of the Canara Union Bank near our house, and it was there that I learned everything about the game. Every day, we would wait to see if there was a function in the hall, and if there was none, we would rush there after school to play to our hearts’ content. Looking back, I realize that the most important thing about my childhood and adolescent years was my refusal to complain about a lot in life. I was thankful for the few hours a week we had the opportunity to hit the shuttle back and forth. In fact, the foundation on which I based my career and my life was the refusal to whinge or whine about anything. And that is what I want to tell you, my children, that there is no substitute for perseverance, hard work, determination and passion for what you choose to do. If you love what you do, nothing else matters — neither awards nor compensation, not even the gratification of seeing your face in newspapers or television. When I won the All England Championship, the prize money in badminton became significant — £3,000 — a huge amount in those days. But that did not distract me from the sheer joy of having been instrumental in putting India on the global map of this game. Deepika, at eighteen, when you told us that you wanted to shift to Mumbai for a career in modeling, we felt you were too young and too inexperienced to be alone in a big city and in an industry we knew nothing about. In the end, we decided to let you follow your heart and thought it would be cruel to not give our child the opportunity to go after a dream that she lived and breathed for. If you succeeded, it would make us proud, but even if you didn’t, you would not have any regrets that you did not try. Deepika, I have learned that you can’t always win in life, that everything you want might not come your way. That events don’t always turn out as you want them to. To win some, you have to lose some. You have to learn to take life’s ups and downs in your stride. The amount of effort that I put in my game never varied from the first day until my retirement. Even during my toughest times, I focused on what I had, instead of dwelling on what I did not. I had the ability to make the best of the worst circumstances and remain steadfast to my goal. Remember how I constantly tell you both about the importance of making your way up in the world without waiting for your parents to pull strings? I believe it is best for children to work hard to make their dreams come true and to not have things handed to them on a platter. When you are home visiting us, Deepika, you make your own bed, clear the table after meals, and sleep on the floor if there are guests at home. If you occasionally wonder why we refuse to treat you like a star, it is because you are our daughter first and a film star later. The cameras that follow you everywhere and the arc lights will eventually fade and what will remain is the real world. Strive to generate positivity around you even though you are too new and too small a player to effect a big change. You are in an industry where there’s always going to be big money, but I believe that it is important to try to be the best in whatever you do regardless of the money. The things that really matter in life are relationships, honesty, respect for your parents and elders. Material success is important, not fundamental to happiness and peace of mind. I can’t tell you enough about the rejuvenating power of prayers and a little faith. Spare a few minutes of your day to close your eyes and meditate, to think about God and you will see how much faith in His power will strengthen you. At the end, when your career is behind you, what remains is family, the friends that you have made. Live a life that is healthy and one that will allow you to live with your own conscience. Everything else is transient. And remember, no matter what, we are always going to be there for you. Lovingly, Pappa.

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