HS Prannoy: To lose an entire year of our short sporting careers was tough

2021-01-03 07:30:38

Last year was not easy for international badminton players, with a majority of tournaments suspended due to the pandemic including the Tokyo Olympics that is delayed by a year. And just when Malayali shuttler and World No. 28 HS Prannoy and his fellow players began their training aiming for the Thailand Open to be held in January 19, four of them tested positive for Covid-19 in November.

Talking about his time during his 14-day quarantine that he completed on December 12, Prannoy says, “You don’t know how Covid-19 is going to impact you. Even if you feel a minor discomfort, you are always scared that it could be because of the coronavirus. During the quarantine, I had the entire flat for myself; if I was locked up in a single room it would have mentally affected me. Then again, to handle it alone was tough because I didn’t have anyone else to take care of me.”

Prannoy has already begun this training and his now “getting back to the groove”. Ask him about how 2020 was for him and he says, “It was a difficult year especially for sportspersons. Our careers are short as it is and on top of that we lost an entire year due to the pandemic. Most of our income comes from the sport and that ceased. However, the expenses remained the same because you still have a trainer and a nutritionist. It was a tough spot because you also have to take care of your body even though you don’t know when the tournaments will happen, and when they do you have to be ready. So, from June the preparations were happening on a daily basis.”


The 2017 National Champion says that he is not looking at the Thailand Open to get the ball rolling. “Once, two or three tournaments are held, others will follow suit and things will look better. However, I think very few people will be playing in Thailand and so, the rest have nothing coming up for the next few months,” says the 28-year-old.

How has this period of uncertainty impacted players mentally? “I don’t think anyone has faced such a situation before, where everybody is fit to play but you don’t have anything to play. So, it’s also tough to train because you can’t push your body for four to eight weeks without knowing what is going to happen or having something to aim for,” says Prannoy.

Are all of his fellow players including PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth, Srikanth Kidambi and Parupalli Kashyap, in a similar headspace headspace? “I think people like Sindhu, Sai or Srikanth have more chances to qualify for the Olympics. For someone like me, I have much more work to do. So, I think they are in a better mood and now with the world being in the finals stages of vaccine rollout, the Olympics could happen and they could compete there. But for the 99% of players, there’s nothing else to plan for the next one or two years. Everything looks a bit dicey because the sponsors are not coming up and the current ones are backing out,” he explains.


With the challenges that he has been facing, ask Prannoy what keeps him motivated and he says, “Over the past eight years, I have endured injuries and disappointments, and so I could deal with the whole pandemic situation better. Because I have failed more than I have succeeded, I have been able to deal with life too in a much better way in the last four or five years. It’s important that we appreciate what we have. Whatever has happened in my life has been a bonus. I never thought I would play at this level and I am always grateful for that. There are a lot of people who have played the sport but struggled to reach anywhere. I am just thinking of this pandemic as just a break, just like when you get injured.”

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