Former Asian Junior Badminton champ Thakkar passes away

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Mumbai, Aug 13 (UNI) Former Asian Junior badminton champion Gautam Thakkar died here today after an unsuccessful battle with lung cancer.

He was 61 and is survived by his wife and three sons.

Mr Thakkar had won the National boys singles and doubles crowns in 1963, with his doubles partner Atul Premnarayan. He had also won the Asian Juniors crown in Lucknow beating a Thai opponent.

He was Maharashtra state champ for six years in row in the 60s. He used to partner the all-time great Nandu Natekar and later Asif Parpia and married another player Gopika Saran.

On retirement, Mr Thakkar served as president of Badminton 45, an organisation of veterans, which honours the sport's achievers every year. He was also a former president of Bombay Gymkhana, where he played practically every day till around six months ago with the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Gulam Vahanvati, and Dr Ajit Pai, obstetrician gynaecologist.

Dr Pai said, ''Our foursome played for exactly 20 years from 1988 practically every day. Gautam used to be fidgety if anyone of us did not turn up by 1555 hrs. Gavaskar would be his partner. He played till the day it was detected he had cancer of the lung in March-end.'' International player Uday Pawar said, ''He was the business partner of my dad and later me. When he parted ways last April, it was a seamless one and on the best terms. He was like a dad for my son Anand and trustee of my Uday Pawar Badminton Academy.'' Mr Thakkar didn't join any official associations as he had a dislike for politics in sport. But he was an active member of the Squash and Racquets Association of Maharashtra (SRAM), a sporting NGO formed by Mahendra Agarwal for the humble professionals.

UNI GS RN PY BST2006

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