Badminton legend Prakash Padukone turned 65 on Wednesday. Padukone’s most famous accomplishment is his victory at the All England Championships in 1980. It was the first time an Indian won the title at the prestigious competition.
Padukone was a known name going into the tournament in 1980. That he was the best from India was undisputed because of the fact that he had won the National title seven times in a row between 1972 and 1979.
Padukone went into the All England that year seeded third. The then 24-year-old raced to the final without dropping a single game to face Indonesian legend Lee Swie King.
King himself had come into the final without dropping a game like Padukone and the match was built up as a ‘Clash of the Titans.’ The final however turned out to be anything but with Padukone dominating the match from the start.
King couldn’t even get into double digits in the first game. The match eventually ended 15-3, 15-10 in Padukone’s favour. At the age of 24, Padukone was the top ranked player in the world and had become the first Indian to win the All England Championships. Pullela Gopichand would later win the title in 2001 and he remains the only Indian apart from Padukone to win the All England.
“Champion, history-maker, inspiration to all. Prakash Padukone took India to the top in badminton & paved the way for success of the next generation. There’s so much to learn from his exemplary passion & dedication to his sport. Here’s wishing the legend a very happy birthday,” the Badminton Association of India (BAI) said on their Twitter handle.
Padukone would go on to win bronze at the World Championships in 1983. He ended his illustrious playing career in 1992 and established the Prakash Padukone Academy. The academy is responsible for the rise of Gopichand himself along with the likes of Ashwini Ponnappa, Aparna Popat, Anup Sridhar and current sensation Lakshya Sen.