The 46-year-old also shed light on the plight of sports staff in India amid coronavirus pandemic.

Team India’s celebrated national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand, Arjuna Awardees Ashwini Nachappa and Malathi Holla have joined hands with IDBI Federal Life Insurance and NEB Sports to launch a unique run to raise funds for beleaguered coaches and sports staff in their respective academies and sports foundations.

Called ‘Run to the Moon’, it marks the 51st anniversary of man’s landing on the moon on July 21, 2020. The idea behind the run is for participants to collectively cover 3,84,400 kilometres, the distance between the earth and the moon. The run will commence on June 20 and end on July 20 and will see thousands of runners, both professional as well as amateurs, take part across different parts of the country.

Pullela Gopichand said, “Coaches and sports staff have been hit the most during the lockdown, with virtually no income during the last three months. We hope to raise funds with this initiative to support and sustain the most important link in the sports chain.”

The registration process has just begun and will continue until June 18. While it is not necessary to run on each of the 30 days, runners have to clock a minimum of 65 kilometres during the one month. Successful finishers will receive a T-shirt, mask and e-certificate and for their distance to be eligible on a particular day, a runner has to log a minimum of 2.5 kilometres and a maximum of 10 kilometres on that day.

Runners can participate at any place of their choice, whether in a park or on the streets, to become part of this vast community. The run is open to all participants in the age group of 10-65 years.

Each participant will have to pay a nominal fee of Rs 100 which will be donated to anyone of their preferred institutions, viz Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA), Mathru Foundation or Ashwini’s Sports Foundation (ASF).