With the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, the final stages of preparations for Indian athletes are in full swing. Among the four Indian shuttlers who will board the flight to Tokyo, the one who will spearhead the men's singles challenge will be none other than 28-year-old Sai Praneeth.
The World Championships bronze medalist believes he can give tough competition to the best in the world at the Tokyo Olympics and is looking forward to making his country proud.
"Playing at the Olympics and winning a medal is every athlete's dream. I'm working hard every day and I think I have a good chance of making my country proud in Tokyo," Praneeth said in a video posted by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
'Will try our best to win medals for India at Tokyo Olympics': Sai Praneeth
Praneeth expressed confidence that the country's athletes would be able to put up a brave fight at the Tokyo Olympics. He also praised the amount of hard work and determination put forth by athletes in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"I wish everyone all the best for the Tokyo Olympics. India has a lot of talent in store, and we have some number of talented coaches too. It is commendable how all of us have been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and training rigorously to be at the top of our game despite health concerns. We will try our best to win medals for the country."
Currently placed 13th with 51,527 points in the Race to Tokyo rankings, Praneeth is the lone Indian male shuttler to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. He failed to secure a place at the Rio Olympics despite becoming the fourth Indian to win a superseries title that year.
Brushing aside the disappointment from five years ago, he has been fine-tuning his game and thinks he is more capable of handling pressure now. According to Praneeth, losses have always reminded him of the need to come back stronger the next time.
"I have learnt a lot from the sport. My willpower has gotten stronger over the years. It has made me strong both physically and mentally. It has taught me to accept failures, move on, and become stronger than ever."