HS Prannoy ends India's 41-year wait, signs off Asian Games 2023 with historic bronze
Prannoy scripted a historic feat as he ended India's 41-year-long wait for a second medal at the Games in men's singles badminton.
HS Prannoy's terrific campaign at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou came to a heartbreaking end on Friday after he went down in straight games against China’s Li Shi Feng in badminton men’s singles semifinal. After trailing by only a point going into the opening game interval, the world no. 1 roared through the contest, winning 21-16. 21-9 in just over 45 minutes, crushing all hopes for a gold-medal bid for the Indian. The loss implied that Prannoy had to be content with a bronze, but it was a historic feat for the star shuttler as he ended India's 41-year-long wait for a second medal at the Games in men's singles badminton. Syed Modi previously finished third in 1982 edition of the Asian Games.
This is India's third medal in the sport in the 19th edition of the Asiad. Earlier on Thursday, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty progressed to the last four of men's doubles, becoming the second Indian pair to secure a medal after Leroy D'sa and Pradeep Gandhe bagged a bronze back in 1982. Meanwhile, the men's team had clinched silver last Sunday after losing to China 2-3 where Prannoy had to sit out with a back injury.
Despite the world championships bronze medallist still recovering from the injury and not being at his 100 per cent, as revealed by him following his incredible quarterfinal win against Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia 21-16 21-23 22-20 on Thursday, Prannoy went toe-to-toe against the reigning All England champion Shi Feng, whom he defeated thrice before in three encounters, two of which were in 2023 itself.
The 31-year-old got the semifinal tie off to a good start but lost the plot midway due to the errors he committed while looking for precision in his return, going wide and long in the process. Rather the mixing the long rallies with smashes, he kept sending Shi Feng to the baseline with tosses. Li attempted to elevate the pace as he levelled the score to 5-5. Prannoy quickly reclaimed the lead to 8-5 with a smash before taking the score to 9-7 with a deceptive forehand return.
However, a flurry of errors in trying to find the line on the flank saw Shi Feng bounce back and gain a slender 10-11 lead at the first-game interval.
The Chinese thereafter stepped up his game with attacking moves to grow his lead to 17-15 and then to 19-15 before a fortunate net cord ended the first game in his favour.
Shi Feng looked more sharp and showed better anticipation in the second game as quickly gained a four-point advantage at 8-4. The errors kept piling up for Prannoy as the Chinese cruised to a 19-9 lead before comfortably sealing the win.