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Padukone Wants Olympic Medal to Boost Indian Badminton

The former All England men's singles champion, who now runs the respected Prakash Padukone Badminton Academies in Bangalore and Pune, said cricket-mad India needs a high-profile champion to raise the aware of badminton.

Anup Sridhar will represent India in the men's singles while Saina Nehwal will compete in the women's singles competition.

"An Olympic medal can give badminton a much needed boost," Padukone said on Danindia.com.

"It's a draw of 32 at Beijing, so how Saina Nehwal and Anup Sridhar fare will depend a lot on a favourable draw. A couple of good matches could take them within touching distance of a medal. The best players are going to be at the Olympics, so it won't be easy for either Saina or Anup but I won't completely write off their chances of winning a medal.

"For Anup, it will be much more difficult as he hasn't been in the best for form and has nursed a foot injury (during the Swiss Super Series). Recently, during training, he sprained his right ankle. Fortunately there is only damage to the tissue and not the bone,"

Padukone retired from international badminton in 1991, just one year before badminton was introduced as a medal sport at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

However, he believes that he would have been a strong medal contender had badminton been included in the Olympics during his peak.

"If badminton was part of the Olympics, I would have definitely played ... could have won a medal when I was on top of my game," he said.

He has since dedicated himself to promoting badminton in India and setting up academies to helping young players groom themselves.

His ambition received a major boost with giant Indian company Tata sponsoring his two academies as well as another future centre in Mumbai.

Padukone was present at the announcement of the Tata Open, a new tournament held at the end of July, when Indian players will get a chance to compete for prize money.












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