Indian badminton legend Nandu Natekar died on Tuesday in Pune. He was 88.

One of India’s earliest badminton stars, he was the first Indian badminton player to win an international event back in 1956.

Natekar, who won over 100 national and international titles in his career, was suffering from age-related ailments. He is survived by his son Gaurav and two daughters.

“He passed away peacefully at home and we were all with him and he has been ailing for the last three months and he passed away peacefully,” Gaurav told to PTI.

Natekar, who was considered one of most popular sportspersons of his time, was also a former World No 3.

“With deepest sorrow, we would like to inform you that our beloved father Nandu Natekar passed away on 28th July, 2021. Keeping in mind the Covid-19 guidelines, we will not be having a condolence meeting. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers,” the Natekar family said in a message.

He was the first sportsman to receive the Arjuna Award for sporting excellence and the first and make his way to the quarter-finals of the All England. He also had six national titles.

He was born in Sangli, first represented India in 1953 at the age of 20 and had a distinguished career where he saw several highs both individually and as part of a team.

Know Your Legend: Nandu Natekar, independent India’s first badminton superstar

He entered the quarterfinals of the coveted All England Championships in 1954, which was also the only year when he participated in the competition and but later on, achieved success while playing in the veterans’ category, winning the doubles in 1980 and 1981 and finishing second in 1982.

His success in the individual events was reciprocated when he was part of the Indian team at the Thomas Cup, winning 12 out of the 16 Singles matches and 8 out of 16 in Doubles between 1951 and 1963. He also led India in the competition on three occasions- in 1959, 1961 and 1963.

He created history for Indian badminton when he clinched the Selangor International crown in Kuala Lumpur in 1956. He and Meena Shah had bagged the mixed doubles crown at Kings Cup International in Bangkok in 1962 and a year later he also won the singles title against all odds at the same event.
“It’s very sad to hear about the demise of Nandu Natekar. He gave Indians a belief that we also can win titles overseas with his win in Kuala Lumpur. Indian badminton will always be grateful for his contribution. The entire badminton community is with his family in this hour of grief and loss,” BAI General Secretary Ajay Singhania said.

With PTI Inputs