The BWF World Championships at Huelva in Spain saw Indian shuttlers make history as Kidambi Srikanth won silver and Lakshya Sen clinched bronze. It was the first time two Indian men were in the semifinals of the World Championships and Srikanth became the first from the country to enter the final of the men's singles. Amid this path-breaking show, Keralite H S Prannoy too made his presence felt as he missed out on a bronze medal going down to eventual champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore in the quarterfinals.
Prannoy, who had struggled to get going after being infected with COVID-19 last December, got his act together in the marquee event. "Overall I'm very happy with my performance. I was in the bottom half of the draw, which was the tougher one. Five seeded players pulled out of the top half and it was a relatively easier one. I had to play some gruelling matches," Prannoy told Onmanorama over the phone on his arrival in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday morning.
Prannoy, who beat higher-ranked NG Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong in the opening round, notched up his maiden win over Denmark's Rasmus Gemke in the pre-quarterfinals. "I knew it was going to a lengthy match. Gemke is a retriever and it was really special to beat him in three games. Such wins boost your morale," said Prannoy.
Despite his fine show Prannoy is fully aware that he missed a golden opportunity to end up on the podium. "Yes, a medal means a lot, especially in our country. My only regret is that I could have stretched Loh in the quarterfinals. I failed to score points despite playing the rallies," he said.
Prannoy was not even sure whether he will compete in the Worlds owing to lack of funds. "Badminton has become a really expensive sport. You need to spend around Rs 3 to 4 lakh to compete in an overseas tournament. The expenses have almost doubled post-Covid. You can stay only in official hotels and travelling too costs a lot. Fortunately, my sponsor GoSports Foundation supported me or else I would have been forced to opt out of the Worlds. If a seasoned player like me is struggling for funds, imagine the plight of the up-and-coming shuttlers."
Prannoy points out that the money from the sport is not big as it made out to be.
"Contrary to beliefs, the prize money from the sport is not very big. You need to at least make it to the quarterfinals of a Super Series event to break even," said Prannoy who is employed with the ONGC, Chennai, as an HR executive.
There was a big controversy last year when Prannoy expressed his anguish at being ignored for the Arjuna Award. "I no longer worry about it. It's something beyond my control. No point worrying about it," said the 29-year-old whose immediate assignment is the India Open in New Delhi next month.