Set to be conferred with the prestigious Dhyan Chand award, former India shuttler and coach Pradeep Gandhe said he never aspired for awards but expressed gratitude that his contribution to the sport has been recognised.
Gandhe served as a former India coach and also was a double-bronze medallist at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi. With Leroy D’souza, Gandhe clinched the bronze medal in the doubles category.
“I feel honoured but I think more than it, the award is recognition of my contribution to the sport as a player, coach and later as an administrator,” Gandhe, who also served as an office-bearer of Maharashtra Badminton Association and Badminton Association of India, told PTI.
“I never did any work while aspiring for any award, but now there is a sense of gratitude that my work has been recognised by the government,” said Gandhe, who is a contemporary of legendary Prakash Padukone, Syed Modi and Partho Ganguly.
“The support of my family has been immense throughout my journey, especially that of my wife, since my main career started after marriage.”
For the first time, six people will be conferred with the national award in badminton. Besides Gandhe, Indian men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, coach Gaurav Khanna, who has been the reason behind the meteoric rise of Indian para-badminton, has been chosen for the Dronacharya Award (regular category).
Also Trupti Murgunde and Satyaprakash Tiwari will be given the Dhyan Chand Award.
Gandhe said he was one of the brains behind the Premier Badminton League.
“After my playing career, as a corporate person, I have travelled to different countries and to each country I went, I used to take a look at the badminton or the sporting facilities there and how we can incorporate that into our country,” he said.
Gandhe had won gold medal in the doubles category in 1978 national Championship partnering Sanjay Sharma. Then he won another gold in 1982 nationals, partnering Uday Pawar and then won the mixed doubles gold in 1984 with Ami Ghiya.
“We were a sports loving family. My late father was a recipient of Shiv Chhatrapi award for his life long contribution to Kabaddi, Kho Kho and as a great player 75 years back and also an able adminstrator,” he said.
“I was always supported by my elder brother Ravindra Gandhe and eldest sister Jayashree Pendharkar, who is the mother-in-law of former India captain Rahul Dravid, and my employers the Shroff family.”
He will be conferred with the award in a virtual ceremony on August 29, the National Sports Day.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines