Veteran badminton official, K. Pani Rao, who was also a former Sports Authority of India coach, passed away on Friday due to cardiac arrest on Friday. He was 70 and survived by a son and a daughter.
Pani Rao, treasurer of Telangana Badminton Association, was one of the most familiar faces of badminton in the Telugu-speaking States, being very close to former BAI secretary K. Punnaiah Choudhary. He was largely instrumental in organising many tournaments from the district to International level over the years.
He first officiated in the Junior Nationals when Madhumita Bist won the title in early 70s and also when Syed Modi shocked Prakash Padukone in the 1981 Senior national final in Vijayawada. In fact, he used to mention that Prakash was his all-time favourite player.
Pani Rao was also the State coach and had a hand in the evolution of the likes of Manoj Kumar, Gopi Chand and Chetan Anand.
The soft-spoken Pani Rao, who always remembered late former BAI Secretary Ahmed Hussain and Punnaiah as his mentors, always ensured that the media got results of all the tournaments on time.
He was also a BWF referee and officiated in the 1986 Seoul Asian Games.
Punnaiah Choudhary expressed shock at the demise. “It is a huge personal loss for me,” he said.
Gopi, Chetan, Manoj were among those who expressed their condolences.
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