- Played 14 national championships, won 9
- Used his bat till the age of 91
- Dies five days after 104th birthday
The wizard of ball badminton Jammalamadaka Pichaiah breathed his last at Hanumakonda on Sunday. He was 104. His kith and kin had celebrated his 104th birthday just five days before he died. Pichaiah inspired the youth for generations.
Pichaiah was a ball badminton legend and Arjun awardee. He was selected for the coveted Arjun award for 1970 and was presented in 1972 by the then President of India VV Giri. Born at Kuchipudi village in Krishna district and studied up to tenth class at Machilipatnam, Pichaiah migrated to Warangal where he joined Azam Zahi Mills.
The finest player and promoter of ball badminton game, Pichaiah dedicated his life to the sport even while working for Azam Zahi Mills. He participated in 14 national championships between 1955 and 1970, the last tourney he played was when he was 53 and won the championship in style. He won the national championship nine times and stood runner up thrice. He was playing the game he adored till he was 91.
He played in doubles in partnership with Kareem. They dominated the doubles format for about a decade. He played barefooted. He was famous for hitting a one rupee coin placed anywhere is the opposite court. Such was his precision and powerful shots.
Pichaiah is survived by two daughters, Sushila and Janakidevi. His wife Satyavathy passed away in 2007. Since then he was staying with his grandson at Madikonda in Hanumakonda district of Telangana. Sports Minister Srinivas Goud, Ministers Yerraballi Dayakara Rao, Satyavathi Rathod, former Rajya Sabha Member Anand Bhaskar, Telangana Ball Badminton Association President Ramakrishna Rao, General Secretary Ravinder Goud, P Shankaraiah of Kothgudem were among those who condoled the death of the rarest of rare players of the century.
Pichaiah was our dronacharya. We played ball badminton in our school days at Tallada village in Khammam district where I was born and brought up. Shuttle badminton was known to us. We played only with the ball. As a student I played the game from 1958 to 1964 when I passed the HSC examination and went to Hyderabad for higher studies. Later between 1969 and 1971, I was a teacher at the same school I studied and was a regular player of ball badminton at school in evenings. I used to play left front or the centre. Pichaiah and Bhavanarayana were legends in ball badminton. Ankulayya also was one of the star players in those days. When I was a teacher I travelled with a couple of friends to Warangal to meet Pichaiah for a chat. He was very kind, encouraging and optimistic about the game. Bats used to be branded in his name.