George Thomas is a Left Handed badminton player
Date of Birth of George Thomas is 04-15-1966
* Arjuna Award 2000
* G V Raja Award: 1985
* Jimmy George Award: 1999
* First player to win a double at the Toulouse Open: 1991
* Member of the Indian team that won the silver at the Commonwealth Games : 1998
* Captain of the Indian team in 1991 & 1994
* National champion: 1991
* Represented Kerala for 26 years from 1980-2006
* National Senior Coach
Read All About Gorege Thomas-Article from Hindu
There is a boundless energy about George Thomas. The champion ‘shuttler,’ the only one from the State to be honoured with the Arjuna Award (2000) for the sport, speaks fast, almost staccato-like, and when it comes to badminton he simply cannot stop talking. If there is something else that matches this passion it is M. T. Vasudevan Nair, ‘his stories, novels, scripts, films.’
This ‘craze’ for badminton and MT’s works was something he had right from his childhood. Starting off hitting the ‘bird’ in his home yard at Chengannur, George got hooked to the sport. With both his father and brother good players in their own right, George got the support he needed. “I was a good athlete, did quite well in the speed events. I could even run the 100 metres under 12 seconds. But somehow badminton became my favourite and I joined the G. V. Raja Sports School,” remembers George, who is now National Senior Coach for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
Almost at the same time he developed a strong liking for MT’s writings. “The sports school gave me a lot. More than honing my skills in the chosen sport, it helped me form a regular routine. I have been following this rather spartan schedule even today. It was during this time I began reading MT and he still remains my favourite writer.”Thiruvananthapuram days
Those Thiruvananthapuram days laid the foundation of a sterling badminton career. The training then began in right earnest at the sports school under the hawk eyes of Balagopalan Thampi and Sivaramakrishnan. It continued for a short time even after George was out of school. “Those days there was a good group of players, including Vimal Kumar, in Thiruvananthapuram. Playing against each other really helped. But all this changed once I joined the engineering college at Thrissur.”
George considers this decision as “the biggest blunder” he made in his life. “But looking back badminton would certainly not have been first option those days. Coming from a middle-class family, taking up a sport for a career was risky business. I was forced to go for engineering to make my future.”
What spurred him to take up engineering was not being able to raise funds to make the trip with the senior Indian team. “After we won the bronze at the Junior Asian Championship I was picked for the senior team to play the Asian Championship at Seoul. Those days players had to shell out a good sum for the trip. Dogged by financial constraints I could not give it a go. It was a huge disappointment and also made me think again of badminton as a career.”
The four years at Engineering College, Thrissur, were virtually a trial by fire. George was in no mood to give up badminton despite heavy odds. “The biggest problem was that there were very few players then. We had a cement court at Pauly Memorial Club and getting leave to play tournaments was near impossible.”
A real fighter and a good one at that, George worked with steely determination towards his goal. He used to reach the club, wipe the court clean, and tie sand bags on his legs and practise. “I used to play against two or three players simultaneously. If there were no players around I used to hit the shuttlecock against the wall and try returning or do some shadow practice. What kept me going was the words of Prakash Padukone. He once said that once players start cribbing it is the start of their downfall: So very true. ”Reward for hard work
All that hard work certainly reaped rich rewards. For 11 years he was the undisputed State No. 1 and among the top five shuttlers in the country. With an engineering degree in hand and more confident to take on the world, George took the decision to take up badminton as a career. He joined the national camp at Patiala and in his first major outing lost a close quarterfinal battle against State-mate Vimal Kumar at the Jalandhar Nationals. Not to be put down he went on to win at the trials to be included in the Indian team for the World Championships. There was no looking back for this dogged player. George went on to become a force in Indian badminton, winning a rich haul that included a Commonwealth silver medal, a senior National singles title, Double at the Toulouse Open and a clutch of other National and International singles and doubles crowns. From 1989 to 2000 George was a vital cog in the national squads. George, who works as Senior Manager (Public Relations), BPCL, has still not left the scene. He continues the training regimen he used to follow at the sports school, plays the Masters tournaments regularly and is a much-sought- after coach.Coaching
As a coach at the Regional Sports Centre (RSC), Kochi, the nursery of badminton in the State, George has been instrumental in moulding the careers of many budding badminton talents. The centre has so far produced five junior national players, 30 State champions and over 40 State ranked players. As secretary he turned RSC into a premium sports centre with round-the-year coaching camps in various disciplines. He was also instrumental in opening up the membership at RSC to students for a nominal fee.
When most sportsmen retire and fade away George is still ready for a good, tight game. “I don’t believe that a player should retire. Of course, youngsters should be given space, but then should they not earn their rightful place? I think I’m still good to play the State championships in the doubles at least.”
Married to Preetha, a former badminton star, they have two sons Arun and Kiran, following in their father’s footsteps, who are State champions in their age groups.