P Gopi: The Friend, the Opponent, the Legend


P Gopi: The Friend, the Opponent, the Legend

Illustration: Saachi Mehta/ Arré


ack in the day, nobody really liked Pullela Gopichand.

The year was 1993 and we were at a nationals camp at the Sports Authority of India in Bangalore. The session that morning was interval training. While the herd ran around the ground, alternating between slow and fast at the count of whistles from the coach, one guy ran on the opposite side of the herd timing his own intervals. I had heard of this guy. He was supposed to be the wunderkind – a favourite of the association-hired Chinese coaches who would recommend us for tournaments. In the dog-eat-dog world of national-level sport, the favoured child finds no friends, so we ignored him for most of the camp.