"Shri Nandu Natekar has a special place in India’s sporting history. He was an outstanding badminton player and a great mentor. His success continues to motivate budding athletes. Saddened by his demise. My thoughts are with his family and friends in this sad hour. Om Shanti," PM Modi tweeted.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur wrote: "Sh. Nandu Natekar was an exceptional badminton player who leaves behind an outstanding sporting legacy. In 1961 he was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award. A generation of athletes have drawn inspiration from him. Sincere condolences to his family & friends."
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also paid tribute to Natekar. He wrote, "One of the towering icons of Indian badminton, Nandu Natekar leaves behind a rich legacy, that we shall cherish forever. 6-time national champion & first Indian to win an international title in 1956, Natekar shall be remembered fondly for his drives, drops & smashes. Condolences."
The 88-year-old Natekar was the first Indian to win an international title in 1956. In his famed career, the former World No. 3 made it to the quarter-finals of the prestigious All England Championships in 1954. He conquered the Sellanger International in Malaysia in 1956. He won the Men's Doubles National Championship a total of six times, the Men's Singles National Championship a total of six times, and the Mixed Doubles National Championship a total of five times. He had also represented India at the 1965 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica.
He is survived by his son Gaurav Natekar, a seven-time Indian national champion in tennis, and two daughters. (ANI)