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10 years on, Gopichand looks back fondly at All England triumph

March 09, 2011 12:33 IST

It's been a decade.

10 years have passed since that memorable moment -- Pulella Gopichand beating Chen Hong of China to win that elusive All England title (in March 2001) -- the second Indian shuttler to do so after the legendary Prakash Padukone in 1980.

And the win is still afresh in the minds of the sporting afficiados, for there has been no Indian triumph in Manchester since.

"I look back at it as a great moment," reasoned Gopichand, in an exclusive conversation with even as this year's edition of the All England commences this week.

Gopichand"It's been 10 years and time has passed very fast," he said.

"Since then I have been able to come back and give back to the sport and make good use of the 10 years after that triumph," he added.

What does he think worked for him in that tournament?

"Well I think it was the effort," explained Gopi, adding, "It was a combination of a lot of things.

"And of course, it was God's grace."

That triumph marked Gopi's first and last badminton title. Is there any regret that he couldn't more to his tally?

"As regards my career, with the kind of facilities I had and the kind of injuries I had, I think I am very proud of whatever I have achieved," said Gopi.

"I have no regrets about my career," he stated firmly.

Has the All England lost its sheen in the last decade or so?

"I think we have tournaments like the Olympics now which have become big over the years, but the All England continues to remain a prestigious tournament," Gopi said.

Any conversation with the mentor isn't over till he is asked about his pupil. Gopi is no different. Does he feel that Saina (Nehwal) is failing at the big tournaments (Olympics, Asiad et al) despite winning frequently on the Super Series circuit?

"She's a 20-year-old," said Gopi, defending his understudy in a manner only a coach would.

"And she's already had a fantastic career. I think it will take her a little while before she lays her hand on that elusive big trophy," he added.

Photograph: Reuters

Bikash Mohapatra