Asia C'ship: Pullela Gopichand meets his mentor S. M. Arif

The significant gesture was possible thanks to the efforts of three-time Olympics referee Vemuri Sudhakar, as it was he who was very particular that someone had to break the ice between the badminton greats in the interest of the sport.

Former national coach and Dronacharya S. M. Arif with the current chief national coach Pullela Gopi Chand during the Badminton Asia team championship in Hyderabad on Wednesday. At left is renowned referee Vemuri Sudhakar.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

It is ‘love all’ at the Badminton Asia team championship at the Gachibiowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad. And, this was more symbolic when India’s chief national coach Pullela Gopichand walked across to greet his former ‘guru’ and Dronacharya award winner S.M. Arif with discernible warmth on the sidelines of the event.

A significant gesture which was possible thanks to the efforts of three-time Olympics referee Vemuri Sudhakar, as it was he who was very particular that someone has to break the ice in the interest of the sport.

It is a known fact that Arif had expressed very strong reservations about the functioning of the top brass of BAI and also some of the coaches (without naming anyone) in the past, highlighting the alleged preferential treatment to certain lead players.

“It was great to see two of the finest badminton personalities from the city to be together again,” remarked a delighted Sudhakar.

Significantly, both Gopichand and Arif were involved in an animated discussion about the Indian players, which again was a reminder that their primary concern is for the good of the players.

“It is nice to be here. Let me remind you that there was nothing personal as far as I am concerned. Yes, it was nice on part of Gopi also to invite me for this event,” said Arif.

For his part, Gopichand too was pretty dignified in his reaction. “It is always nice to meet Arif Sir. Let me remind you that there was never a word I had uttered against him which had hurt his reputation,” the former All England champion pointed out.

“Well, it is always great to share a few thoughts on the game and the players and we hope to meet more regularly even if it means for different reasons,” Gopichand signed off.