Badminton referee Vemuri Sudhakar has the distinction of officiating in three consecutive Olympics (1992, 1996 and 2000)
He made a mark in the Olympics even before the likes of Gopichand, Saina Nehwal. But, with a difference.
Vemuri Sudhakar (62) is the proud recipient of commemorative medallions for officiating in three consecutive Olympics (1992, 1996 and 2000). And, this Hyderabadi still happens to be the only Indian to achieve this rare feat in badminton.
For Sudhakar, a student of Methodist School and the Nizam College, his maiden Olympics was also the same edition when badminton was introduced as a medal sport. “That actually makes me feel very special about the whole experience of Barcelona even now,” says the highly-respected official.
Sudhakar didn’t care for reputations, stuck to the rules and not surprisingly had the ‘distinction’ of issuing the only official warning in badminton to the eventual gold medallist Alan Budi Kusuma of Indonesian in the men’s singles quarter-final for delay tactics in the 1992 edition. “I was not worried. In fact, he took it in a very sportive manner. I also officiated in the semi-final there,” he recalls.
One of the lasting impressions of Barcelona Olympics which is frozen in his memory was when Sudhakar saw the archer lit the Olympic Flame in the stadium with his arrow. “He walked past me. I was just about 60 feet away from where he took the aim. I was wondering what he was up to. But, what an amazing spectacle it was. Truly sensational experience,” says the Badminton World Federation umpires assessment panel member.
“The beauty of Olympics is that organisers rarely give you a scope for complaint. Everything is so meticulously planned. The volunteers should get the credit for making everyone feel in the comfort zone” he says the veteran badminton official.