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India’s Thomas Cup triumph bigger than 1983 World Cup for badminton: Pullela Gopichand

India’s Thomas Cup triumph bigger than 1983 World Cup for badminton: Pullela Gopichand

India’s chief badminton coach and former All England champion, Pullela Gopichand highlighted the enormity of India’s Thomas Cup victory, saying it is even bigger than the 1983 Cricket World Cup triumph for Indian badminton.

India ended a 73-year-long wait to bring home the biggest team championship crown as a young team defeated 14-time champions Indonesia in the final at the Impact Arena in Bangkok on Sunday, May 15. Not many gave India a chance to win the team tournament that had previously been won by only 5 nations. However, the team, spearheaded by Kidambi Srikanth, rallied against the odds and beat the 5-time champions Malaysia, former champions Denmark in the quarter-final and semi-final before outclassing the most successful team in the history of the tournament in the final.

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“I would say that in badminton terms this is even bigger (than the 1983 World Cup win). I think nobody would have imagined that we would win something as big as this,” Pullela Gopichand told India Today.

The Kapil Devils did the improbable in the 1983 Cricket World Cup, beating the odds to win the trophy. Kapil Dev’s side brought the mighty West Indies down in the final to inspire a generation of youngsters take up cricket. One of the greatest to have ever played the sport, Sachin Tendulkar, has often stressed he was inspired to pick up a bat after watching India beat the West Indies in the iconic Lord’s final.

Gopichand believes the Thomas Cup win, India’s first title in the 73-year history of the tournament, will bring abuot a similar impact in badminton, which is already a popular sport after the likes of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu scripted Olympic glory for India.

GOPICHAND PROUD OF TEAM INDIA

“I am really really happy, not only for Indian badminton but for Indian sport. If you were to put cricket aside, I think no other sport in this country can talk about this kind of a team,” Gopichand added.

India defeated 5-time champions Malaysia in the quqarter-final before outclassing powerhouses Denmark in the semi-final.

“I think it is huge for India to get to that stage. To beat Malaysia in the quarter-finals and then Denmark, I think that showed the character of the team. The first match today was very critical. I think once you start off well the momentum is with you and it makes that so much tougher for the opposition to come back.

“And that’s what happened. Satwik and Chirag piled up the pressure and just stayed on close enough and that was very important. And when it really mattered I think we just played well. And it was amazing to see Srikanth. Each one of those matches were really close and we need this team to be able to pull this thing and I am happy that the entire team came together as a unit and played well.”

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