Prominent Indian badminton and the first Indian player (and Punekar) to win an international title, Nandu Natekar, 88, passed away at his residence here on Wednesday. Natekar – who won over 100 national and international titles over the course of his career – succumbed to 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. He was ailing for the last three months but breathed his last peacefully,” reports quoted his son Gaurav as having said.
After the news of Nandu Natekar’s passing broke, dignitaries, fans and followers sent condolence messages over social media.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet, “Shri Nandu Natekar has a special place in India’s sporting history. He was an outstanding badminton player and a great mentor. His success continues to motivate budding athletes. Saddened by his demise. My thoughts are with his family and friends in this sad hour. Om Shanti!”
Natu recalled that when PDMBA hosted the senior nationals badminton in 1997, Nandu Natekar was the head of the organising committee and that he learned a lot of things from him. Back in 1986 when the Maharashtra Badminton Association was going through troubled times owing to a dispute among its management, Nandu Natekar went ahead and continued as president for four years to bring stability to the body.
In 1954, Nandu Natekar made it to the quarterfinals of the prestigious All England Championships and in 1956, he became the first Indian player to win an international event when he claimed the Sellanger International in Malaysia. He won 12 out of 16 singles’ matches and 8 out of 16 doubles as part of the Indian team at the Thomas Cup held between 1951 and 1963. He led the country in tournaments in 1959, 1961 and 1963.
He also represented India at the 1965 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica. Before appearing on the world badminton stage from 1950 to 1970, Nandu Natekar was also fond of playing tennis and cricket. In 1960, he was offered a Brylcreem advertisement for which he wasn’t paid any money but given free packets of Brylcreem every month.