International Arbiter Gopakumar Sudhakaran has been appointed as the Deputy Chief Arbiter for the 44th Chess Olympiad, becoming the first Indian to be nominated for this prestigious and responsible post in the world’s biggest chess event.
Previously, as an arbiter, Gopakumar has officiated in three Olympiads as well as World Youth Championships, multiple Grandmaster events, Commonwealth Championships, and Asian events among other top chess events.
“The only thing I can say is that the Air Force made me what I am today. I am indebted to Bharat [Sigh Chauhan] Ji (Olympiad Director) for encouraging me to pursue my interest and Air Vice Marshal J Rajendra and Air Force Sports Control board for providing much-required support and also to my wife,” said the 41-year-old air force officer by profession, who was adjudged Fair Play Officer at the World Rapid and Blitz event held in Warsaw this year.
The upcoming 44th edition of the Chess Olympiad is scheduled to take place in Mahabalipuram near Chennai from July 28 to August 10.
Gopakumar’s love for chess began after he was crowned under-12 Kerala champion. In 1996, the 15-year-old took over the pairing in a local tournament in his hometown after his arbiter father was assigned some urgent work and this accidental initiation took over his life.
Gopakumar also has gold and silver medal to his name in 3000m steeplechase and cross country in Air Force respectively and currently, he is a qualified Technical Official for the Athletics Federation of India.
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