Nandu Natekar, the first Indian to win an international badminton title in 1956, died on Wednesday in Pune. The 88-year-old was suffering from age-related problems after winning over 100 national and international trophies during his career.
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 was a former World number three and considered one of the most popular athletes of his day. Natekar, who was born in Sangli, Maharashtra, has won over 100 national and international trophies over his 15-year career. In 1961, he was also awarded the renowned Arjuna Award.
“With deepest sorrow, we would like to inform you that our beloved father Nandu Natekar passed away on 28th July 2021,” The Natekar family said in a message.
During his illustrious career, Natekar advanced to the quarterfinals of the prestigious All England Championships in 1954 and won the Sellanger International in Malaysia in 1956, becoming the first Indian player to do so. Between 1951 and 1963, he was a member of the Indian team that won 12 of the 16 singles matches and 8 of the 16 doubles matches in the Thomas Cup. In 1959, 1961, and 1963, he also had the distinction of leading the country in the tournament.
He also competed for India in the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica in 1965.