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1980: Prakash Padukone wins All England Championship

Print edition : Aug 25, 2022 T+T-

1980: Prakash Padukone wins All England Championship

Prakash Padukone on his return to Bangalore on March 28, 1980, after winning the All England Championship.

Prakash Padukone on his return to Bangalore on March 28, 1980, after winning the All England Championship. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The year 1980 turned out to be the turning point for both Padukone and Indian sports.

India is today a big name in international badminton, with four men and one woman in the top 20 of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings. In the last seven years India produced two world number ones, Saina Nehwal (2015) and Kidambi Srikanth (2018); and India ranks fifth in the world in the sport with three medals at the Olympics, 25 at the Commonwealth Games and 10 each in the Asian Games and the BWF World Championships. These achievements would not have been possible without the heroics of Prakash Padukone in the badminton court: the first Indian to win the prestigious All England Championship, in 1980, and climb to the top of the world rankings.

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Prakash Padukone with the All England trophy he won after beating Liem Swie King of Indonesia 15-3, 15-10 on March 23, 1980.
Prakash Padukone with the All England trophy he won after beating Liem Swie King of Indonesia 15-3, 15-10 on March 23, 1980. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

At a time when badminton was dominated by Denmark, China and Indonesia, Prakash Padukone single-handedly carved out a space for India in the international arena. Born on June 10, 1955, in Bangalore, he was introduced to the game at an early age by his father, Ramesh Padukone, who was the secretary of the Mysore Badminton Association. He dominated the sport, winning the national championships eight times in a row (1971-79), and in 1978, he won his first international title, the gold at the Commonwealth Games in Canada.

The year 1980 turned out to be the turning point for both Padukone and Indian sports. He beat the legendary Morten Frost - “Mr Badminton” – in the Denmark Open; and then made history by winning the All England Championship, defeating the two-time defending champion, the Indonesian superstar Liem Swie King. It would be 21 years before another Indian, Pullela Gopichand, would win the All England again, in 2001. Padukone’s magnificent streak in 1980 continued as he went on to claim the Swedish Open title, defeating Rudy Hartono, the Indonesian legend and a record eight-time winner of the All England Championship. The same year he became World No 1 in the BWF rankings.

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Padukone retired in 1991, but continued to serve Indian badminton through his Prakash Padukone Academy, which has produced champions and stars like P. Gopichand, Aparna Popat, Anup Sridhar, Arvind Bhat, Trupti Murgunde, Aditi Mutatkar, Sayali Gokhale, Ashwini Ponnappa and Lakshya Sen. India has produced a number of international stars in badminton over the years and it was Padukone who first opened the door for them in 1980.