A FRIEND INDEED

The huge crowd and the players at the Senior National badminton championship finals in Bangalore recently were pleasantly surprised when the Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj walked in. He came there to watch the matches and meet his old friend and badminton icon, Prakash Padukone. "Not many would know that badminton was my first love and I had represented Tamil Nadu in the South Zone inter-state championships in Belgaum in the late 1960s and I played against Prakash. That's s how our friendship began,'' revealed Vijay Amritraj. But why didn't he stick with badminton? "I took a hiding from Prakash and that made me take up tennis. Actually I was in two minds whether to be a tennis player or badminton player and Prakash helped me make the decision," Vijay said.

Vijay was all praise for Prakash. "I am a huge fan of Prakash, I watched him win the All England Championship in 1980 and what a performance it was! He is one of the nicest sportsmen and a perfect role model for every kid," he said.

— Kalyan Ashok/Bangalore