India badminton legend Pullela Gopichand has set his sights on ending his nation’s 18-year-old wait for an Indian to become the next YONEX All England champion – and he is preparing his golden generation of players to make history in Birmingham this coming March.
Record books show that Gopichand was the last Indian to win the prestigious All England title when be defeated Chen Hong 15-12 15-6 in 2001, achieving the coveted feat some 21 years after Prakash Padukone’s history making title.
Padukone’s 1980 victory came at Wembley Arena leaving Gopichand as the only Indian to have raised badminton’s biggest prize aloft in Birmingham in the 25 years that England’s second city has staged the Championships.
18 years on and India are still awaiting a new champion.
Saina Nehwal came closest to ending the wait; reaching the final in 2015 before seeing Spain’s Carolina Marin become champion.
Last season saw Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu enjoy her best run in Birmingham before missing out at the semi final stage. Now ‘badminton’s greatest show’ brings its own possibilities in 2019.
Asked about the upcoming targets for his Indian superstars, Gopichand said: “For us the 2020 would be a big one, and then 2022, so basically the commonwealth, Asian Games and the Olympics are the big event but having said that the All England will be the target next year.
“It has been quite a while since we have won the All England Championship. It will be almost 20 years since Prakash sir won and then I won the Championship so I hope this time it doesn’t take so long.”
Indian fans have every reason to be optimistic as Birmingham comes into focus.
Sindhu, currently ranked third in the world, become the first Indian to clinch the World Tour Finals crown pre-Christmas, whilst also winning silver medals at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, World Championship and finished runners-up at India Open and Thailand Open.
Saina Nehwal, recently married to fellow badminton star Kashyap Parupalli, also lurks in the world top 10.
Four male teammates are now in the world top 25 with Sameer Verma having had the season of his life on the World Tour to bring depth to that offered by Srikanth, Prannoy and Praneeth.
In the doubles disciplines, Commonwealth Games silver medallists and Syed Modi Super 300 finalists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty look the pair most likely, ranked as they are, in the top 15 of the men’s doubles event.
India’s badminton superstars always enjoy strong support from the stands at Arena Birmingham and you can now add to the passion, pride and colour by joining them at the YONEX All England – thanks to Asian World Newspaper.
Image Credit – BadmintonPhoto
Use promotion code 19SINDHU to unlock limited availability £15 adult tickets to watch all the action on Wednesday 6 or Thursday 7 March at Arena Birmingham.
Tickets are now on sale at www.allenglandbadminton.com