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Hyderabad: Jammalamadaka Pichaiah, the legendary ball badminton player from Warangal, passed away at his residence in Warangal, on Sunday. He was 104.
Pichaiah had won the national championship a record nine times and was runner-up thrice. He holds the record for winning hat-trick of titles for Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh separately. Along with the Arjuna award, he was also honoured NTR Award for the Best Sportsperson.
Pichaiah was the lone Arjuna Award in the game from the State who single-handedly popularised the game. He started playing ball badminton in 1932 and won several singles titles across the country beating some of the best. He, along with his partner Karmeem, formed a formidable combination and ruled the nationals from 1944 to 1953. He had participated in around 1,300 tournaments in his entire career.
Born in Kuchipudi in Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh on December 21, 1918, he used to play football, volleyball, basketball before shifting his focus to ball badminton. He moved to Warangal after Independence to work in Azam Jahi mills. However, he continued to play ball badminton and represented the State in 15 nationals from 1955 to 1970. His exploits was recognised by the government of India when he was bestowed with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 1970.
Pichaiah, despite struggling with lack of support to the game financially and otherwise, continued his love for the sport and inspired a generation to take up the sport. He also started a sports articles shop called Warangal Sports which later became Pichaiah Sports.