India shuttler Prannoy ‘not worried’, eyes set on Paris Olympics
The world number eight said he was looking to play five to seven tournaments to seal his Olympic qualification
H.S. Prannoy of India competes against Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in their quarter-final men’s singles match against at the Badminton BWF World Championship in Copenhagen on August 25, 2023. (Photo by Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT (Photo by MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)
OLYMPIC qualification is on the horizon, but star Indian shuttler HS Prannoy said he was not looking too far ahead and was focused on the next couple of months in his bid to get into “tournament mode” after a productive off-season.
Prannoy, 31, who secured a maiden bronze medal at the Asian Games and World Championships in 2023, suffered a loss to Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in the opening round of the Malaysia Super 1000 last week in Kuala Lumpur.
“You can’t be disappointed with a couple of losses when you are playing 19-20 tournaments in a year. There is no time to sulk. I had a bad Malaysia Open, but someone like Anders going on to win the tournament shows the competition,” Prannoy said on the eve of the India Open Super 500 starting on Tuesday (16).
“So I am not worried. A lot of good things happened in 2023 – I mean, to have both medals in a month is something I wouldn’t have thought of in my dreams. But a lot of work is left.”
Talking about his training sessions during the off-season, Prannoy said: “The focus was mainly on strength because we don’t get enough time to push the strength with so many tournaments happening.
“December was a month where I could go back to basics, start again from scratch and do a lot of strength training. It might take a little time to get into that tournament mode.
“To have that strength carry forward for the next three-four months is very important. There would be some tournaments where you might not feel well, but you will slowly and gradually get into that tournament speed.”
The world number eight said he was looking to play five to seven tournaments to seal his Olympic qualification and then try and achieve peak form ahead of the Paris Games.
“The Paris Olympics is still a long shot. There is still a lot of time. I’m just taking two to three weeks at a time and not looking beyond that right now. I would love to compete in Paris, but the focus is on the next couple of months.
“Until April 2024, we have the qualification period. So until then, we might push for more tournaments, but the plan is to pick and choose after you qualify and then gradually peak before the Olympics,” he said.
Meanwhile, two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu misses out this week as she recovers from a knee injury, and Prannoy said he hoped she would achieve her dream of winning an Olympic gold in Paris.
“I think she is back to training. I heard she will be starting to play next month. To have someone like Sindhu still trying to prove that she is the best in the world…she has already won two Olympic medals, and her dream is to win gold,” he said.
“She already has the experience of preparing for the Olympics, so she is ahead of everyone. So getting into the Olympic cycle, she will know what needs to be done so her body is in perfect condition by the end of July.