On May 15th, Indian badminton team scripted history by winning the Thomas Cup. Exclusive! Thomas Cup triumph one of the biggest ever wins for Indian badminton: Pullela Gopichand. Ofcourse, everyone knows the efforts behind this victory put in by Guru Gopi, India’s Chief National Badminton Coach.
On Feb 3, 2022 I nearly dropped my food when I saw the person who had called me at 10.30 am. It was Guru Gopi, yes, THE Pullela Gopichand whose untiring efforts to nurture world class badminton champs is finally paying off.
Colgate supports a few sports scholars through the Gopichand academy and thanks to Rajesh, we got to speak with Guru Gopi a couple of times. The first time Rajesh gave me his number I was extremely skeptical about calling him … you don’t just call a legend. But, with a True Legend you apparently can.
Gopi was not just very pleasant to talk to but also very practical. I never told him that I played badminton right through school and college and had hopes of being a star 🙄. Thank God some sense prevailed.
The only interaction we had in the two years since that first conversation was over email before this call out of the blue.
Mr. Gopichand had some ideas that he wanted to share with us to figure out if some funding was possible. He explained his ideas clearly and the results that he expected to follow. Not for a minute there was condescension or any other “celebrity” like behaviour.
The sports scholars that we stay in touch with also speak about Guru Gopi in glowing terms. His commitment and deep love for sports is evident in the fact that he started the Gopichand Academy with his own funds !! How many sports legends who are wealthier and with access to a lot of funds do that ??
There is a Tamil proverb that goes “ஒரு பானை சோற்றுக்கு ஒரு சோறு பதம்” (Oru Paanai Sotrukku Oru Soru Patham). It means, one grain of rice is sufficient to figure out if the pot of rice is cooked or not. In the same way, one incident is enough to show the character of a person.
Pullela Gopichand had won the All England Championship in 2001, only the second Indian to do so after Prakash Padukone. He was offered a lucrative endorsement deal by a Cola company and he refused because of the health hazards that such carbonated drinks pose !!!! Not just that he openly stated the fact that he stopped drinking colas from 1997 and so he doesn’t want to endorse something that he doesn’t believe in.
Now compare that with some of the “stars” that feature in Cola adverts …. Darr ke Aage Jeet hai ??? Well, drink Colas and there won’t be any “Darr” (fear) because one won’t live long enough to figure out what’s beyond “Darr”.
A true legend in any field is genuinely a great human being – honest, compassionate, committed and above all, humble.
Thank You Guru Gopi, for being a role model and a true legend. You may not like my blog but I had to write it because youngsters today need examples like you to look upto. 🙏🏿