Asian Games bronze medallist HS Prannoy insists that he isn’t taking his Paris Olympics qualification for granted despite sitting pretty on eighth spot in the world ranking considering the competition levels in men’s singles in India.
Prannoy is currently ranked 7th in the Road to Paris ranking with compatriots Lakshya Sen at 17 and Kidambi Srikanth at 20. According to the qualification rules, a country can send two players to the Olympics only if both are ranked among the top-16 in world ranking at the end of the qualification period on April 28, 2024.
“Qualifying for the Paris Olympics is the primary aim right now. There are 10-12 tournaments left before the qualification ends and I can’t take anything for granted,” said Prannoy on the side-lines of an event to announce his exclusive collaboration with Federal Bank here on Wednesday.
Competition in men’s singles is very high. I need to stay consistent and focus on my training and continue to work hard,” said the 2023 Malaysia Masters champion.
Prannoy, who became the first Indian men’s singles player to win an Asian Games bronze medal since 1982 in Hangzhou last month, has been out of action due back pain and is scheduled to participate in the Japan Open World Super 500 and China Open World Super 750 tournaments this month.
“I am still recovering from the back pain and have started training again. I am looking forward to be on the Tour again but I am not going to take any risk with my fitness,” the 31-year-old added.
Speaking about his Asian Games campaign, Prannoy said he was able to push himself for a medal in men’s singles but was disappointed that his injury did not allow him to play the men’s team final.
“The team silver is huge because Asian Games is a tough tournament. Everybody was charged up to perform well and that is why we got the medal. I wish I was fully fit (for the final).
“A lot of things could’ve gone wrong. I was injured, people were ill but things feel in place. But I fought hard for that (individual) medal. On the quarterfinal day, it was about how much I can push myself,” said Prannoy, adding that he was willing to take everything in that match.
The world no. 8 said Indian badminton players are benefitting from the government support for training, tournaments and even sports science support. “Thanks to the support from the government and partners like Federal Bank, we can focus on badminton as a lot of things taken care of,” he added.
Prannoy pointed out that badminton as a sport has grown immensely in the country and there are many academies across the country training upcoming players. The need of the hour now is to have higher prize money in domestic tournaments and corporate coming forward to support players.
He also said it was important for top players to train together. “I was lucky enough to play in a big group with top players. That’s how you learn. It increases the opportunities for Olympic medals,” he said, adding it was important to get more qualified coaches in the system and encourage former players to get into coaching.