Prakash Padukone simply raised my game, says Morten Frost

If Morten Frost can do to a bunch of youngsters at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) what Prakash did to him, it will be yet another glorious chapter in a lifelong friendship.

Morten Frost and Prakash Padukone are all smiles at the Padukone-Dravid centre for sports excellence in Bengaluru.   -  Sudhakara Jain

In the early 1980s, when badminton legend Prakash Padukone dropped anchor in Denmark for six long years, he left a lasting impact.

No one could have seen it better than Morten Frost, a World No.1 and winner of four All England titles.

“He simply raised my game,” recalled Frost on Tuesday. “He elevated it to a standard I did not have before. He was a better player than me when he arrived but I turned out to be better than him when he left.”

If Frost can do to a bunch of youngsters at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) what Prakash did to him, it will be yet another glorious chapter in a lifelong friendship.

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“He has the knack of identifying young players,” said Padukone at the unveiling of the 60-year-old as a consultant coach, in partnership with the Olympic Gold Quest.

“I remember him telling us ten years back about Viktor Axelsen. He has that knack and also in giving them the right inputs. I am very sure that we will benefit from his immense experience.”

Back then, Padukone and Frost were considered the outliers, trying to crack the code with their fleet-footed movement and strategic brilliance against the marauding Chinese and Indonesians.

 

Padukone believes Frost can effectively marry this old world knowledge with the modern day methods - the latter is abreast of through coaching stints in Europe and Asia.

“It’s very much a matter of moving with the times,” said Frost. “Taking some of the good things from the past and combining them with new trends to get a more complete player. The game today is faster, players hit harder but I also think they make a bit more mistakes.”

Morten Frost, Viswanathan Anand and Prakash Padukone pose for cameras at the Padukone-Dravid centre for sports excellence in Bengaluru.   -  Sudhakara Jain

 

“The game has also got more breaks now. The umpires are always trying to push the players to continue playing, but somehow we always need to wipe the floor, towel or drink water resulting in longer matches. But that gives them the extra strength to go faster for shorter periods of time whereas we had to stretch it a bit more.”

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Frost though conceded that the players of the current era were better than those in his times and singled out the current crop of women’s singles stars.

“Women's singles badminton has never ever had such a high level. It is by far the most competitive category of all five on the world scene. There is a nice spread of nationalities and also of personalities and playing styles.”

It is this level which Frost will like to help a few youngsters reach during his stint in India.

“Hopefully, I can make a little difference,” he said. “The toughest thing for any sportsperson is the transition from junior status to senior. It is about self confidence and belief. It's also about picking up pace. There is a massive difference. What you can get away with in juniors you get punished in the seniors. With the experience I have, hopefully I can help some of the players here be world-beaters one day.”