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Nandu Natekar Became the First Indian Badminton Champion at the International Level

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Nandu Natekar was an international player and loved classical music. Let's take a look at his sports career in this article,


Ascetic in Badminton

We all of us know that fans of Indian badminton are Prakash Padukone, Pullela Gopichand or more recently Saina Nehwal and P. V. Sindhu; But it was Nandu Natekar who was the first to raise India's profile in badminton at the international level. He became the first Indian champion at the international level and has since become India's challenger in badminton.

Although the sport of badminton was born in the city of Pune, many had to fight for a career in the sport in the past. Nandu Natekar is no exception. In the two decades since 1950, he has been undisputedly dominant by his consistent and sensible play. His six-time national singles and doubles titles at the national championships, as well as his five-time mixed doubles title, are outstanding. He won the men's singles title at the 1956 Kuala Lumpur International Championships.

At that time, he became the first Indian player to win an international badminton title. He won the mixed doubles title with Meena Shaw at the Kings Cup in Bangkok in 1962. The following year, he won the singles title in the same event. He had the opportunity to represent India in the 1966 Commonwealth Games. They had reached the quarterfinals of the All England Championships. He became known as one of India's greatest badminton players.

Natekar initially competed in tennis as well as badminton and made a name for himself; but he decided to pursue a career in badminton rather than tennis. He had qualified for the finals of the Senior National Championship ten times. The agility required in this game, the accuracy required for drop shots and the right timing, gaining control of the game by serving deep, bank hand return shots were the hallmarks of their game.

While working for a petroleum company for thirty years, he also made his mark in the inter-petroleum competition. He always believed that it was his responsibility to make his company more successful. There, too, he would have had the opportunity to work as a coach. He had the physical and mental capacity required to train in competitive sports.

At the height of his career, Shastri Natekar decided not to play singles again after winning the senior national tournament for the sixth time. He decided that he would only participate in doubles and team fights. It was a shocking decision for his fans; however, he intended to set aside some time in badminton practice to listen to classical music.


Interested in Classical Music

He had a reputation as the best player in the game. In fact, he could have made a lot of money by setting up a badminton academy to take advantage of his fame, but he did not take that path on purpose. Along with badminton, he loved music since childhood. After spending many years in badminton, he decided to pursue his hobby. He used to feel sad that he could not pay much attention to music due to his busy schedule. That is why he preferred to learn classical music without taking the coach's 'second inning'.

He had also taken personal guidance for that. He used to study music two days a week with Sandhya Kathwate, a teacher from Agra family. Only two days a week was their hour; but for the remaining five days, he was practicing a lot. Even at the age of 85, he was still practicing classical music with concentration. He used to be so absorbed in classical music that it was as if a student was sitting with his teacher and practicing with concentration.

When asked about his love for classical music, he replied that since childhood, I used to listen to various programs of various Bharati and Pune All India Radio on the radio. He was listening to such music or programs in his spare time automatically raises his spirits. Even after retiring from competitive badminton, he practiced badminton regularly, practicing walking for half an hour. By the end, he was in good mental and physical health. He also gave his son the freedom to pursue a career in sports. His son Gaurav and daughter-in-law Aarti are both internationally renowned tennis players.

Inspired by Natekar, many players not only from Pune but also from all corners of the country are gaining national and international fame. Since the creation of world class badminton complex in Pune, many international competitions have been organized there till date. Many Indian players who came for the tournament received valuable guidance from Natekar on badminton and physical fitness.

He lovingly guided the players who approached him. He used to say that badminton made me, then I repaid it freely, only then I would be able to repay the debt of this game. Not only in Pune, but also in the field of badminton in the country, he was and will continue to be known as a sage personality.

© 2021 Anand

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