Award Name : Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
Year of Award : 2001
Award for : Sports and Games
Location : Nāgandla, Andhra Pradesh, India
Pullela Gopichand is a former Indian badminton player. He is a talented badminton player and was awarded Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for his sporting talents in 2001. His highest ranking in the world in men’s singles was 5 as of 15th March 2001. Pullela Gopichand was born on 16 November 1973, at Nagandla, Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh, to Pullela Subash Chandra and Subbaravamma. He was interested in sports from a young age. As a little boy he used to play cricket and took up badminton at the age of 11 on the encouragement of his elder brother. Even then, he played the sport only recreationally for some time before participating in competitions. He completed his schooling from St. Paul's High School, Hyderabad. Then he earned his degree in public administration from A. V. College. An emerging talent in badminton, he served as the captain of the Indian combined universities badminton team in 1990 and 1991. In 1991 he was also selected for his state’s junior badminton team.
He consecutively won the National Badminton Championship title for five years from 1996 to 2000. At the National Games 1998 held at Imphal he won two gold medals and one silver medal. He entered international badminton in 1991 and represented India in the international tournament many times. He got gold medal in the SAARC badminton tournament held at Vijayawada in 1996. He also bagged gold medal in the tournament held at Colombo in 1997. He won silver medal in the team event and bronze medal in the singles event in the Commonwealth Games. He could reach up to the finals in the Indian Grand Prix Tournament held at Delhi in 1997. He won the Toulouze Open Championship in France in 1999 and Scottish Open Championship in Scotland. He also won the Asian Satellite tournament held at Hyderabad in 1999. He won the prestigious 2001 All England Open Badminton Championships at London. He received Arjuna Award in 1999 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2001 from the Government of India. The Government of Andhra Pradesh honored him by offering cash prize and a plot in the Jubilee Hills of Hyderabad. He received Padma Shri Award in 3005 and Dronocharya Award on 29th August 2009.