02 March, 2021

Space Shuttler

Destiny dribbled with him, but Gopi Chand has finally attained his euphoric high

Space Shuttler

THE 6.15 evening news sank her heart. After waiting in trepidation for the whole of a rather grey January day of 1994, Subbarammaa and her husband had turned on the radio at their Delhi home to catch their son Gopi in action at the Pune National Games. Instead, what came through were dreadful details of Pullela collapsing and writhing in pain on the court. The upcoming badminton player had had a multiple ligament rupture.

Within moments Subbarammaa’s mind was swamped by a flood of images. Fleeting yet vivid and haunting—a 12-year-old Gopi walking into the Lal Bahadur Indoor Stadium at Hyderabad for the first day of badminton practice; early morning exercises before rushing off to St Paul’s or later St Mary’s School; animated dissections of the game with family.

It was the first major injury suffered by Pullela Gopichand—who last week, at 27, became the All England champion. Doctors decided on a primary reconstruction of his left knee which was to be followed by a frustratingly long rehab regimen.

It wasn’t...

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