Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

BAI president Akhilesh Das Gupta dead

- HT Correspond­ent sportsdesk@hindustant­imes.com

The Badminton Associatio­n of India (BAI) president Akhilesh Das Gupta passed away on Wednesday morning following a massive heart-attack, plunging the sports fraternity in sorrow.

Das Gupta, 56, was a veteran sports administra­tor under whose reign Indian badminton got global recognitio­n and medals in the Olympics, with the likes of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, among others, bringing laurels to the country at the biggest stage.

Thanks to his efforts, India wielded tremendous clout in the Asian Badminton Confederat­ion and Badminton World Federation (BWF). Besides being a Rajya Sabha MP, Das Gupta was also the vice-president of the Indian Olympic Associatio­n.

During his tenure, Saina Nehwal earned a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games, and PV Sindhu raised the profile of the sport by bagging silver at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Das Gupta initiated various schemes, cash awards and exposure trips for shuttlers in all agegroup categories after he took over from VK Verma in 2010.

In fact, India bagged the rights to host major internatio­nal events such as the Thomas and Uber Cup (2014) and the Super Series, while the Syed Modi tournament in Lucknow was upgraded to a Grand Prix gold status.

The Indian Badminton League was also launched in his tenure (2013), which was later rechristen­ed to Premier Badminton League in 2015.

However, his tenure as president of the UP Olympic Associatio­n and chairman of the UP Badminton Associatio­n in the recent past drew criticism after he removed Vijai Sinha from the post of secretary-general.

Though Das Gupta’s style of working in BAI always remained a talking point, his support to the players’ cause was immense.

Saina and doubles specialist Jwala Gutta were among the first to expressing deep sorrow.

“Really shocking news ??it’s just unbelievab­le..our beloved president sir @BAI_Media is no more .. may his soul Rest in peace,” tweeted London Olympics bronze-medallist Saina.

“My heartfelt condolence­s to the family of our badminton president who passed away... #akhileshda­sgupta #RIP,” said Gutta.

 ??  ?? BAI chief Akhilesh Das Gupta (centre) passed away on Wednesday.
BAI chief Akhilesh Das Gupta (centre) passed away on Wednesday.

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