Prannoy overcomes health issue to take India forward - Hindustan Times
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Prannoy overcomes health issue to take India forward

Apr 29, 2024 10:15 PM IST

With the world no.9 leading the way, the defending champions beat England 5-0 and qualified for the quarter-finals.

In an interaction with this daily at the India Open in January, HS Prannoy had said that he was looking to continue his run of form – that took him to new highs in 2023 – into the Paris Olympics.

India's HS Prannoy(PTI)
India's HS Prannoy(PTI)

At 31, an age where many badminton players consider retirement, Prannoy put together his best year on the circuit to become India’s become No.1 shuttler, a feat he had never achieved previously. The Kerala shuttler won bronze both the World Championships and Asian Games, reached two finals on the BWF World Tour, achieved his career-best ranking of world No.6 and became the first Indian shuttler to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

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However, in 2024, he just hasn’t been able to perform to the highest level. He has suffered five early round exits in six tournaments and his win-loss ratio (6-9) has reflected his status as a top-10 player.

Hence, every win right now, even if against a lower-ranked player, is significant for the world No.9 if he wants to regain his touch before heading to Paris. And that’s exactly what he achieved against Harry Huang when he beat the world No.106 21-15, 21-15 to give India a winning start in their Thomas Cup Group C clash against England. The defending champions won the tie 5-0 on Monday and also qualified for the quarter-finals.

“It's always good to have a win under your belt and to give a winning start is really important for my confidence too. It gives you a good boost going ahead into the tournament,” Prannoy said in the mixed zone, while divulging details about the health issues that pegged him back.

The 31-year-old explained he has been suffering from constant nausea for the last four months, which started with a malfunctioning muscle lining the oesophagus, causing food consumed to move up and eventually vomit. The condition is similar to acid reflux Prannoy had suffered from for years before he finally figured out the solution. His medical issues also saw him lose four kilograms in the last couple of months and has had a psychological impact on him as well.

“What I was feeling was when I eat the food doesn’t go down. Whenever I train (the food) comes up and forward to the chest side and I need to vomit. It is kind of related to acid reflux. The food is not able to do get down. That’s where my breathing went for a toss,” said Prannoy, who played a crucial role in India winning the Thomas Cup two years ago in Bangkok.

“I was on a liquid diet before the morning sessions because whatever I was eating was coming up. I couldn’t eat much because I was afraid it would affect the playing schedule. I was OK to not eat and play (but) the nausea was even worse than not having anything in the stomach which is why I lost 4-4.5kgs in the last two-three months.”

Significantly, his doctors have identified the issue and Prannoy has been under medication since. "It is tough (because) that’s where a whole lot of energy is lost,” he added.

His poor health also affected his on-court performance in a big way. But the world No.9 has been feeling better the last few weeks that has allowed him to refocus on his game. Though he lost to reigning world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand on Saturday, the win against Huang was crucial before he faces tougher battles ahead in Chengdu.

“The idea was to be as clinical as possible. I was feeling better out there today. Huang is somebody who is coming up the ranks. These kinds of players are always dangerous when it comes to close points. So, it was important for me to have enough gaps between points to give myself breathing space that I kept for the entire match," said Prannoy.

India will next play 14-time champions Indonesia on Wednesday in a replay of last year’s final to decide who tops Group C as both teams have qualified for the last eight.

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