MUMBAI, MAY 14,
Anant Bhagwat, who has played 20 matches against the legendary Nandu Natekar and just won a doubles contest, wondered why India’s foremost badminton player of yesteryear was never bestowed the Padma award.
“Nandu was the first badminton player to receive the Arjuna Award in 1961, but he has not received the Padma,” Bhagwat said at Natekar’s 85th birthday celebrated by the Legend’s Club at the C.K. Nayudu Hall, Cricket Club of India on Saturday.
Occupying centrestage right through the evening, Natekar was certainly not amused by Bhagwat’s outpouring of sentiments. “I never thought about it. I used to forget about my matches soon after they got over and concentrated on music. I never thought of awards those days,” responded Natekar. Former National men’s doubles winner Anil Pradhan, Natekar’s son Gaurav and Legends Club president Madhav Apte spoke about Natekar as a great player and fine person.
Touching upon the current badminton scene in the country, Natekar agreed with Prakash Padukone that India is going through a golden era.
“Who thought that two Indian girls — Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu will meet in a final. There was always a Chinese, Thai or a Malaysian. And K. Srikanth, what a fantastic player he is. The commitment of today’s players is amazing. They rise early and are willing to do what’s to be done for badminton.”
When asked to name the player who has impressed him the most, Natekar said “Sindhu uses her height to her advantage. Saina is a great fighter. Srikanth is a class player. The game has progressed by leaps and bounds in speed, commitment and fitness levels.”
MUMBAI, MAY 14,