Sportstar archives: Prakash Padukone's life on and off the badminton court

In an interview with Sportstar, India's first men's singles champion at All-England spoke of his Danish sojourn, evolution of Indian badminton and more.

Prakash Padukone returns a shot from Indonesia's Rudy Hartono during their men's singles semifinal match at the All England Badminton Championships   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

He is an Indian in every sense. But he had become virtually a stranger in Indian badminton circles, for Prakash Padukone, a licensed player, had made Copenhagen his base. His visits to India became few and far between.

When Prakash was in Hyderabad for the second Indian Masters championship, Sportstar wanted to get a line on him. But before speaking to Prakash the hurdles one encountered were many. The Badminton Association of India had, it seemed, laid down a rule whereby no player can talk to the Press without the permission of the manager.

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After a few attempts, Sportstar managed to speak to Prakash after manager T.P.S. Pun had said okay.

Excerpts from the interview

As licensed player: I am based in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have been under contract with Akai-Yonex since May '80. The contract ends this November. I am hopeful of getting a renewal for another term. Finn Jacobsen is my manager and all my matches are arranged through him.

The routine in Copenhagen: Well, everything is mechanical. I practice regularly for two sessions each lasting 2 1/2 hours. Then my wife attends to household work. Everything such as cooking (my wife looks after this), washing, shopping et al. I own a car which also requires attention every day. Some outings in the evening. Time flies.

Mental attitude towards the game: Though I was brought up in a very homely atmosphere with a lot of people around, I am basically a loner. I have only a limited circle of friends. Being a loner, I think a lot and keep on telling myself that the more you are composed in the match the better it would be for your game; tight and steady.

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Prakash Padukone receiving the Hong Kong Open championship trophy from the Association President Tong Yunkai on Hong Kong in September 1982   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES


Game in India: In our country the game has undergone a vast change in the recent time. But to be a champion you should have extra drive in you. All that you obtain in practice sessions and matches will take you to a certain level. But to be in the top bracket you require plenty of mental application and perseverance. A bit of sacrifice is a must.


 

Food habits: As you are aware, I was a strict vegetarian until recently. But I found that non-vegetarian food would be more suitable to give you that extra something. So I have now changed to non-vegetarian. Initially, I found this extremely hard but I gradually overcame this.

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Strengths and weaknesses: I know that to be classified in the top bracket you should possess a hard smash. I don't have this, This is my weakness. But then, I can keep going with the steep half smash with a fair amount of consistency. My real strength lies in playing the strokes to angles and making minimum errors in the matter of executing the smashes. My smashes lack the necessary punch, but at the same time, I can be extremely consistent in shaping a rally and winning it.

Future plans: I would like to be in the professional circuit (as a licensed player) for some more time. It is a challenging test, no doubt. The game is getting tougher and tougher. Your play-style is exposed constantly through films and video tapes. Added to this, the Chinese have now jumped into the ring. At present no one can be sure of his place in the top arena. It's the day's performance that counts. It's rather like a musical chair. But then the fierce competition brings out the best out of a top player.

Favourite TV show: Dallas

Latest book read: Theory of Economics ("That was in college. No time for books since then.")

Favourite singer: Mukesh

Favourite holiday resort: Kashmir ("I have not gone there yet but I would love to go there because I have heard a lot about that place.")

Hobby: Listening to classical and rock music.

Greatest moment: Winning the All-England Championship in 1980

Most disappointing moment: Withdrawal from the All-England Championship in 1979 because of a heel injury.

Most respected rival: Liem Swie King

All time great: Rudy Hartono

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