Though Hockey is our National game, India has more players from other sports like Cricket and Badminton. And surprisingly, Badminton is the second most popular sport in India after Cricket.

In his in-depth research, Hirav Shah filtered a few successful Badminton players in India. Check out the below list to find who they are.

1) Nandu Natekar

Nandu Natekar is the first Indian badminton player to win an international title for our country in the year 1956.

During his peak form, Nandu Natekar used to be called as ‘ God of Indian Badminton’. Being a terrific player Nandu Natekar has won more than hundred international and national titles for our country, says Hirav Shah.

Nandu Natekar is also called with the nickname as the home ground’s king and used to be the most celebrated Badminton player back then.

Nandu Natekar founded Natekar Sports and Fitness academy which is now helping as a training centre for aspiring badminton players.

Nandu Natekar won the Arjuna award in 1961 and received many more lifetime achievement awards later.

2. Prakash Padukone

Prakash Padukone at the Tata Open championship
Mussarat Kang, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Prakash Padukone is one of the famous and successful players in Indian badminton field. He is the first Indian to win All England Championships title and later reached the top spot in 1980.

Prakash Padukone is a co-founder of a foundation named Olympic Gold Quest which is going ahead successfully in promoting Olympic sports in our country.

Being famous Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone’s father, Prakash Padukone always likes to maintain a low profile and continues doing so many social activities in his badminton circle.

Considering Prakash Padukone’s achievements as the badminton player, the government of India had given him Arjuna award in 1972.

Later, in 1982 he got Padma Shri Award and many numerous awards in mid-’80s.

3. Pullela Gopichand

Pullela Gopichand 2016 (cropped)
Prime Minister’s Office (GODL-India), GODL-India, via Wikimedia Commons

Pullela Gopichand created a record by winning All England Championships title after Prakash Padukone.

Despite being a terrific player, Gopichand will always be remembered as an amazing coach, who trained the happening Badminton players like PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal.

Gopichand established Pullela Gopichand Badminton academy at Gachibowli, Hyderabad and is training aspiring players.

Pullela Gopichand has been awarded Arjuna Award in the year 1999 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2001. The Indian government has respected him by giving Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan Awards in 2005 and 2014 respectively.

4. Aparna Popat

The President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presenting the Arjuna Award -2005 to Ms. Aparna Popat for Badminton, at a glittering function in New Delhi on August 29, 2006
President’s Secretariat (GODL-India), GODL-India, via Wikimedia Commons

Aparna Popat is one of the finest women badminton players India has ever produced. She has a track record of achieving National Senior level Women’s badminton title for most of the consecutive years.

Aparna Popat was trained by Prakash Padukone during her career beginning days. She won nine National Single titles and registered a victory in Women’s singles silver in Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.

Aparna Popat was awarded Arjuna Award in the year 2005 and many more National level titles later.

5. Ashwini Ponappa

Ashwini Ponappa along with her partner Jwala Gutta managed to bring a lot of medals and respect to our country.

Ashwini Ponappa is the first Indian pair to win a medal at BWF World Championships. When it comes to appreciation Ashwini Ponappa is being neglected compared to Jwala Gutta but will always remain as the finest player in the badminton field.

Ashwini Ponappa was awarded Arjuna Award in 2012 by our central government.

Jwala Gutta & Ashwini Ponnappa
Nardisoero, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

6. Jwala Gutta

Jwala Gutta will always be remembered as the first badminton player to qualify for two events in the Olympics. Jwala Gutta registered many successes in the doubles category.

Jwala Gutta is a popular face at National level and she is the one who brought recognition for women’s badminton at the international stage.

Jwala Gutta got Arjuna Award in the year 2011 and fourteen gold medals for Women’s doubles championship and five gold medals in the mixed doubles category.