"Indian badminton team can win the gold medal at 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games": HS Prannoy
Recovered and raring to perform, H.S. Prannoy believes that the All England Championships will provide him with the right match practice ahead of a hectic year that has important events like the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
The World No. 13 Indian, who has recently returned to action after recovering from foot warts, was expected to be one of the top contenders for the All England Championships scheduled to be held in Birmingham early in March. However, Prannoy ruled himself out of contention saying he is yet to attain full fitness but wants to do well at his maiden Commonwealth Games.
“The All England Championships looks a little dicey for me as I have just started training a week back. And it’s a tournament where you need to be 100 per cent fit. All the top players are playing...the draw looks a bit tough and so are the conditions. But this is one of the tournaments I really enjoy playing because the atmosphere is great.
“Probably, in a couple of weeks I'll feel start feeling better. So, I am not really looking forward to the All England but of course playing well at the CWG is on my mind which is three weeks after the All England and I should be 100 per cent fit for that,” Prannoy said on the sidelines of an Indian Olympic Association event in New Delhi on Monday.
The 25-year-old, who has been troubled by a string of injuries in the past, feels that the All England event will be the perfect rehearsal and help him perform well in the forthcoming Gold Coast CWG in April.
“Playing a tournament is really important for me before a big event like the CWG. In training, we do practice but that’s not match practice. The All England is a really big tournament where there will be pressure to perform. For me, though the foot injury took a lot of time to heal, it’s always nice to see the good side.
"The break was good for me as I have a hectic schedule ahead. Now I am really hungry to play games. I am eager to get into the groove and start playing. It really helps sometimes before bigger events because you want to win something big, you are motivated,” Prannoy told this correspondent.
'Gold medal, a realistic chance in team event'
Prannoy along with K. Srikanth will lead India’s men’s challenge at the CWG while Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu will take care the responsibility in women’s singles. When asked on India’s chances for the CWG where they have been placed in Group A alongside Pakistan, Scotland and Sri Lanka in the mixed team event, the 2017 US Open champion said: “It’s looking good. As on paper, we have a great chance. It’s up to the certain day to perform as a team and get some good results. We have a realistic chance to win a gold in team event.”
“In women’s singles, we are always stronger in major events. In CWG, there shouldn’t be an issue because of the way Sindhu and Saina are playing. I don’t think there are many players who can go and trouble them.”
“For me, there’s no expectation going into these major events. Expectations always let you down. These days I don’t go into tournaments with targets, it’s just the everyday stuff. I try to give my 100 per cent, whatever I can, and sometimes if you are lucky then you can even go and win major events like the All England,” the Youth Olympic silver medallist said adding that India has a strong pool of players now with Srikanth setting the bar after winning four Superseries titles last year.
Prannoy also praised his compatriot Sameer Verma who recently won the Swiss Open for his positive approach during hard times, saying that he has learnt a deal with certain things from his compatriot. “When you are down with injuries, it’s really important that you stay positive. On those days, the negativity part is the one that tends to let you down quite often. One guy who handles it really well is Sameer Verma. I think he and I have been really on-and-off the court when it comes to injuries, but he has very less of the negativity,” said Prannoy, who was out of action for a month owing to the injury.
"I am working a lot on being fit and being lighter on the court and that’s what we all we are trying for the last one year. There has been a lot of diet changes for every player...like for me, I have to cut down on sugar apart from some other stuff. I think being lighter helps you come back a little bit faster when you are injured."
Don’t support 11x5 point rule: Prannoy
The recent Badminton World Federation’s proposed 11x5 rule in place of the regular 21x3 has evoked mixed reactions within the fraternity. “I am not really supporting it. I don’t think it’s going to change the face of the game. 21x3 is the format that has many aspects and one has to be good in all these aspects, like skill, endurance and intensity. Also, one hardly has to spend 25-30 minutes on the court; physical ability will not come into account,” Prannoy told this correspondent.
The new rule would demand players to be on their toes right from first point. “It’s not really good. In some conditions, you can’t really be on your toes because of the drift, faster shuttles etc. Also, getting lesser injuries is not the thing which is going to popularize the game. The one thing that is going to popularize the game is how intense it and I will be disappointed if the 21-point format is scrapped,” he added.