Walk down memory lane for lovers of shuttle game

Last Updated: Feb 06, 2011, 11:43 AM IST

Mumbai: Nostalgia took centre stage as
"Badminton 45", a private body comprising lovers of the
shuttle game in this metropolis, felicitated champions of
yesteryear here.

Those honoured included former greats who are no longer
with us, and the glittering function was organised on the
Bombay Gymkhana lawns last evening.

Lifetime Achievement Awards posthumously were given to
George Lewis, winner of four national men`s singles titles on
the trot in the late 1930s before migrating to Canada, four-
time national men`s singles champion Trilok Nath Seth and
silken smooth stroke players - five-time winner Suresh Goel
and eight-time champion Syed Modi.

Also bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award worth Rs
50,000 and a trophy was five-time women`s singles national
winner Pearl Goss.

Among other yesteryear stalwarts to be honoured were
Nandu Natekar, ranked fourth in the world in his prime who was
adept at tennis too before switching his attention solely to
badminton, ex-All England champions Prakash Padukone and
Pullela Gopichand, two-time national men`s singles champion
Vimal Kumar, Suman Deodhar, Sushila-Rege Kapadia, Ami Ghia
Shah, Madhumita Bisht and Aparna Popat.

"I have fond memories of Bombay Gyamkhana. I won my last
national title (6th) on these courts in 1965 and then retired
from the game. Later on I won the G D Birla Masters Tournament
in its inaugural year. I am very happy that old players have
been remembered today," said Natekar.

Current stars, including world women No 5 Saina Nehwal,
and doubles specialists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa were
present to soak in the atmosphere as well as being honoured by
the private body which had late industrialist Aditya Birla as
its driving force and is celebrating its silver jubilee.

A book "Courting Success", detailing the achievements of
the former champions and written by former player and
columnist Shirish Nadkarni, was also released on the occasion
along with a souvenir.

Saina, talking to reporters, said she would not forget
the evening. "It was a great evening in the midst of so many
great players of the past. I will not forget this evening and
it will act as an inspiration."

A former great, who did not wish to be named, wondered
why the state badminton associations and the Badminton
Association of India (BAI) have not thought of organising a
similar function in the past.

"If a private body can do it, why not the state
associations and the BAI," was his query.

Also honoured on the occasion were former doubles
champion and Natekar`s partner Chanrakant Deoras, Leroy D`sa,
Romen Ghosh and Maureen Mathias.