Prakash Padukone, dominated the national badminton scene for almost a decade (1971–80) and put India on the sport’s international map. Padukone participated in the Karnataka State Junior Championship, his first official Badminton tournament in 1962, wherein he lost right in the first round. Improving his performance, Padukone was able to win the State Junior Championship 2 years later in 1964. Later, he won the National Junior Badminton Championship in the year 1970. In the same year, he occurred to witness the legendry Badminton player, Rudi Hartono of Indonesia playing a power packed game, full of aggressiveness and power, at Jabalpur, India. Getting inspired by him, Padukone decided to change his style of game from mild to aggressive. There was no looking back for him. He won the national senior championship in 1971 at age 16, thereby becoming the youngest player to have achieved the feat. He won each successive national championship until 1979, setting a record of nine national titles in a row. In 1978 he won the singles badminton gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
The following year he completely dominated the top European players of his era and won both the Danish Open and the Swedish Open. His greatest accomplishment came in 1980 when he became the first Indian to win the All England Championships, the world’s most prestigious annual badminton competition. The All England win catapulted Padukone to the number one world badminton ranking, making him the first Indian to achieve that status.
Padukone won the first Alba World Cup in October 1981 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the first Indian open prize-money tournament, the Indian Masters (now the India Open), at Pune in November. In 1982 he won the Dutch Open and the Hong Kong Open, and at the 1983 world championships, Padukone won the bronze medal in men’s badminton. Padukone was conferred upon the Arjuna Award in 1972 and was awarded the Padmashri in 1982. He was known as the ‘Gentle Tiger’ on the court. In 1994, he launched The Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy at Bengaluru to nurture Badminton talents.
Like many other sports, Table Tennis began as a mild social diversion. Though Table Tennis evolved, along with Badminton and Lawn Tennis, from the ancient game of Tennis (also known as Jeu de Paume, Real tennis, Court Tennis or Royal Tennis), the game was developed after Lawn Tennis became popular in the 1880s. Game manufacturers tried many experiments to market an indoor version of Lawn Tennis, including board and dice games, card games, racket and balloon games and others. The 1887 catalog of George S. Parker (USA) includes an entry for “Table Tennis: This game is laid out like a Lawn Tennis court, played and counted just the same, all the rules being observed.” However, this was a board and dice game by J.H. Singer (NY), whose name also appears on the catalog.
The earliest surviving action game of Tennis on a table is a set made by David Foster, patented in England in 1890: Parlour Table Games, which included table versions of Lawn Tennis, Cricket and Football. This game featured strung rackets, a 30mm cloth covered rubber ball, a wooden fence set up around the perimeter of the table, and large side nets extending along both sides. One year later famous game makers Jaques of London released their GOSSIMA game. This game borrowed the drum style battledores from the Shuttlecock game, and used a 50mm webbed wrapped cork ball, with an amazing 30cm high net that was secured by a belt-like strap under the table.
Neither of these action games were successful, due to the ineffective ball: the rubber ball had too wild a bounce, while the cork ball had too poor a bounce. Jaques continued to advertise Gossima throughout the 1890s, but it was not until 1900, when the celluloid ball was introduced to the game, that the concept of tennis on a table became successful. The name Ping Pong is traced to an 1884 song by Harry Dacre. The distinct sound of the celluloid ball bouncing off the drum rackets quickly led to the use of the same name. Gradually the two most popular names prevailed: Ping Pong, and Table Tennis. The game gained popularity after establishment of International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in Berlin.