Dubai: Former All England Champion and India’s Chief National Coach Pullela Gopichand became the first professional badminton player in the world to receive the prestigious 10-year UAE Golden Visa in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the sport.
“I am really honoured and humbled that the Dubai government has considered me for the Golden Visa and I am looking forward to making many more special memories here. This will also give me an opportunity to work on our Gulf Badminton Academy, which we have opened in Dubai last year and expanding to the Arab Countries,” Gopichand said in a release.
After retiring from his playing career, Padma Bhushan Gopichand founded the Gopichand Badminton Academy in 2008 and has produced several badminton players including Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Parupalli Kashyap, Srikanth Kidambi, Arundhati Pantawane, Gurusai Datt and Arun Vishnu.
World Championship gold
Saina went on to win the bronze at the 2012 Summer Olympics, while Sindhu clinched the silver at the 2016 Summer Olympics and the bronze medal at the pandemic-hit 2020 Summer Olympics, and also became the first Indian to win the gold at the BWF World Championships. Gopichand also served as the official Indian Olympic Badminton team coach at the 2016 Rio Olympics held in Brazil.
Other sportspersons who have been granted the Golden Visa by Dubai include footballers Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and Romelu Lukaku, tennis superstar Novak Djokovic, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and her husband and Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik.