International Badminton Umpire Sudhakar Dies of Covid

Sudhakar was the only Indian to officiate in three successive Olympics

Hyderabad: International badminton match-referee and umpire Vemuri Sudhakar succumbed to Covid-19 on Tuesday morning. He was 72. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Regarded as one of top officials of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), Sudhakar was the only Indian to officiate in three successive Olympics, apart from officiating in numerous international and World Cup tournaments.

Retiring as Deputy Manager of Syndicate Bank, Sudhakar got attracted to badminton at 22 years. “It was too late to play as a player and so I concentrated in the game as an umpire.’’

He had a rich voice and was popular among players and officials alike. After his stint as an umpire he excelled as a referee. He would be invited by BWF to conduct seminars and clinics on rules of the game.

Doubles specialist Jwala Gutta said Sudhakar’s demise was a big loss to the game of badminton. “Only other day I came to know he was in hospital and I tried the best medication possible. Even on Monday, he sent me a note thanking me and today he is no more. I grew up watching him officiate in matches. He used to explain the rules very patiently,’’ said Jwala.

Former All England champion Pullela Gopichand said Sudhakar left an indelible mark as an umpire and as a referee. “He was a highly respected figure in the BWF. He was a very efficient umpire,’’ he said.

Former international Manoj Kumar said Sudhakar sir was an authority with rules. “He was very popular in the tournaments across the world.’’

Former Test off spinner N Shivlal Yadav added that Sudhakar was passionate about his game. “He was our sports officer. He was a gentleman.’’

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