Badminton Life

Padukone's Academy Attracts Overseas Players

A Indian-based badminton academy set up by former All England champion Prakash Padukone is attracting top players from around the world to train at its facility in Bangalore.

The Tata Padukone Badminton Academy has been experiencing a steady stream of international players, especially from Europe, who want to play in Asian conditions.

The Hindu newspaper in India reports of the Czech Republic's number one ranked player Petr Koukal, ranked 36 in the world, using the Academy to train. He was made aware of the facility after talking to the current Indian number one, Anup Sridhar.

"It was during my chat with Anup Sridhar, with whom I have been playing on the European circuit, that I learnt about TPBA. I thought it was a good idea to train here prior to the Olympics and get acclimatised to the Asian conditions," Koukal told the paper.

"Moreover, the training centre is world class. With people like Prakash Padukone and Vimal Kumar watching you, you can't ask for anything better. Another reason for training in Bangalore is the availability of good sparring partners."

The Academy also has a fan in respected English coach Colin Haughton. So much so, that the England Badminton Association has sent a nine-member squad to train in Bangalore.

Haughton said India, though without a top-10 player, have many talented badminton players who are able to provide good competition for visiting players who need quality training partners.

"The Indians are a lot more talented and training here opens new vistas for us. We have not trained in Asia and that will be an additional experience. So far, the conditions here have been ideal," said Haughton.

Britain's top-ranked player Rajeev Ouseph is also expected to join the squad at a later date and Haughton has not ruled out more British-based players arriving in Bangalore.

Also training at the Academy is Sri Lankan Thilani Jaysinghe, who is representing her country at the Beijing Olympics. This is her second stint in Bangalore and she hopes the training will help her in her quest for glory in the Chinese capital.

Vimal, who runs the centre when Padukone is away, said the system helps both overseas players and the Indians.

"It is good to have foreign players. While they get a feel of the Asian conditions, the Indian trainees have quality practice sessions and get the opportunity to play against players of varied styles. It is beneficial both ways," he said.

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