Hyderabad: It is exactly a year ago when Indian shuttler B Sai Praneeth created history by becoming the only second shuttler from the country in the men’s category after legendary Prakash Padukone to win a medal at the World Championship.
He notched up a bronze medal in Basel (Switzerland) in 2019. The last time an Indian men’s player who stood on the podium at the event was Padukone in 1983 when he won a bronze.
Recalling the memorable outing, the 28-year-old Hyderabad star said the victory was still fresh in his mind. “That is definitely the best moment of my career. Winning a medal for India at the World Championship after 36 years is extra special. Since we played only a few tournaments after that because of Covid-19, the medal-winning moment is still fresh. I can’t believe it has been a year since the event,” he said.
When asked about what has changed post the bronze medal, he pointed out, “Definitely the medal gave me a lot of confidence and the game is all about confidence. But since we got such a long break, we have to start from scratch. Once we start playing tournaments, we can’t expect results right away. It might take us a couple of tournaments to get back to form.”
Sai Praneeth was conferred with the Arjuna Award at the start of the World Championship that provided him the extra motivation. In the same year, India, for the first time, won two medals – other being PV Sindhu’s gold – at the prestigious event. “So the whole two weeks were pretty special for Indian badminton,” said the 2017 Singapore Open winner.
On his favourite match in the tournament, he said, “The victories over Anthony Ginting (in round of 16) and Jonatan Christie in quarters were memorable.” Sai Praneeth went down to eventual champion Kento Momota in the semifinal.
He also feels that they were not thinking too much about their next tournament Thomas and Uber Cup which is scheduled for October in Denmark. “We started our training recently and we are taking it slowly. We are not thinking about any tournament as of now as we are not sure whether it will be held or not. Even if it goes on, we are not sure about the quarantine rules. As a team we can take part but can’t expect results. The players in other countries resumed training two months ago and it is only me and Srikanth in the men’s section who are training here. We don’t want to rush things as it can lead to injuries,” he said.
He also noted that India’s new singles coach Agus Dwi Santoso from Indonesia is assessing the situation. “He is a very experienced coach and he knows that we were without any training in the last four to five months. Hence he is taking it step by step. He will begin his full-fledged programme once we are at our 100 per cent,” he concluded.
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