'Badminton now No. 2 to cricket in India'

There is widespread interest, there is live television coverage and the talent pool has broadened.

“Indian sport has improved tremendously over the last few decades. Yes, cricket still rules, but Olympic sports have found their space too,” says Prakash Padukone.   -  Somashejar G.R.N.

I feel extremely honoured to be conferred with the Sportstar Aces Lifetime Achievement Award, supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF. The Hindu and Sportstar have always been known for their excellent sports coverage which is objective and unbiased. During my younger days, a few of the sources of exhaustive information on sport around the world were found in The Hindu and Sportstar. I am happy that the magazine is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Back then, there were three sports magazines with the other two being Sportsweek and Sportsworld, and from that three, only Sportstar has survived and continues its tradition of covering sport. To know what happened in the world of sport over the last week, we athletes all relied on this magazine. The pictures were good and in colour and often these and the write-ups and the posters inspired us to do more. To find our names in Sportstar was an honour. I am glad the magazine has continued to stick to its values.

As for Indian sport, we have improved tremendously over the last few decades. Yes, cricket still rules, but Olympic sports have found their space too and that change happened thanks to the London Olympics in 2012. India won six medals (two silver, four bronze) and that inspired many to take up varied sports like shooting, badminton, wrestling and boxing. The monetary rewards were good, too. After that Olympics, things began to improve across sporting segments in India.

I now think after cricket, badminton has become the No. 2 sport. There is widespread interest, there is live television coverage and the talent pool has broadened. My only worry is that in the women’s section we seem to have slowed down and no one has come up after Saina Nehwal and P. V. Sindhu. Hopefully this will be sorted in the coming years. The men’s section has more talent coming in besides Kidambi Srikanth and that’s a good sign. We at the Olympic Gold Quest are positive that in the years to come we will have more medal-winning athletes across segments who will make India proud. Once again I thank Sportstar for encouraging sport and thanks once again for honouring me.

As told to K. C. Vijaya Kumar.