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How Pullela Gopichand changed Indian badminton with historic All England Open win in 2001?

Published at :March 14, 2023 at 12:11 AM
Modified at :April 8, 2023 at 5:51 AM
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Abhiruchi Rout

The Indian shuttler became the second player to win the prestigious tournament after Prakash Padukone.

Indian shuttlers have been on a rise in the sport of Badminton, courtesy of their consistent performances in the international arena. India has collected three medals at the grandest stage of the Summer Olympics through Saina Nehwal’s bronze in 2012 and PV Sindhu’s silver (2016) and bronze (2020). After last year’s incredible performance at Thomas Cup 2022, Badminton has become one of the most talked about sports in India. 

There are some significant moments that brought a monumental change in the sport. One such achievement was when Pullela Gopichand, former Indian shuttler, etched his name in history when he defied all odds to win the All England Open Badminton Championships. He rose to prominence after securing a comprehensive win on March 11, 2001, to defeat China’s Chen Hong by 15-12, 15-6 in straight sets. This was India’s second triumph in the tournament after Prakash Padukone’s win in 1980. 

Gopichand’s performance in the All England Open Championships 2001

vs OpponentCountryScoreRound/ Stage
Colin HaughtonEngland15 - 7, 15 - 4Round of 32
XinpengChina15 - 3, 15 - 9Round of 16
Anders BoesenDenmark15 - 11, 15 - 7Quarter Finals
Peter GadeDenmark17 - 14, 17 - 15Semi Finals
Chen HongChina15 - 12, 15 - 6Finals

What odds did Gopichand face to win India’s second title?

The victory is considered a huge accomplishment as Pullela Gopichand’s win came after a gap of almost 21 years. In fact, Gopichand overcame the challenge from world no. 1 Peter Gade to move to the finals. Pullela Gopichand showed complete dominance as they didn’t lose a single set to any of his opponents throughout the tournament.

Before Pullela Gopichand, it was Prakash Padukone who scripted history for India when he was just 24 years old. In March 1980, he became the first Indian to take home the prestigious All-England Open. Like Pullela Gopichand, the in-form Prakash captured the coveted title without dropping a single set. Prakash beat Indonesian shuttler Liem Swie King by 15-3, 15-10 in the gold-medal match.

What sets apart the All England Open Badminton Championship from others is the fact that the renowned event is the world’s oldest Badminton tournament. After the introduction of the latest grading system, the series was granted the title of Super Series in 2007. Later, the event received the status of Super Series Premier in 2011. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) recognizes the high-profile event as a BWF Super 1000 tournament.

India’s performance in the All England Open Badminton Championship

Since Pullela Gopichand’s remarkable feat, no Indians have been able to claim the title. Experienced shuttlers PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, and young Lakshya Sen have come closer to winning the championship, but couldn’t hold the main crown. Double Olympic medalist Sindhu reached the semi-final on a couple of occasions in 2021 and 2018. Whereas, Saina made it to the final of the mega event where she finished as a runner-up after losing to Carolina Marin. 

In 2022, India was on the verge of creating history once again after over two decades. The 20-year-old Lakshya stunned two top-seeded opponents - the then World no. 3 Anders Antonsen and World no. 7 Lee Zii Jia. In the big final, Lakshya, however, lost to the reigning Olympic and World champion, Viktor Axelsen, in straight sets 10-21, 15-21. As a result, India’s hunt for the third crown continues.

Know about the recent edition of the All England Open Badminton Championship

The All England Open Championships 2023 is all set to commence on March 14 and run until March 19, 2023, at Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, England. The illustrious tournament will draw top shuttlers from all over the world in singles and doubles events. PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Lakshya Sen, K Srikanth, and HS Prannoy will spearhead India’s challenge in the singles. 

India’s biggest bet in the men’s doubles and world no 6. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will be back in action. However, the shuttlers who can surprise everyone are none other than Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, the daughter of Pullela Gopichand. The growth that the badminton duo has displayed in the badminton world in such a limited period is nothing short of phenomenal. Just like her father, Gayatri will be hoping to script history for the country. As the championships start on Tuesday, all eyes will be on the Indian badminton stars as they aim to bring home the third All England Open Championships title.