After overcoming Chikungunya, HS Prannoy back training at full steam

HS Prannoy (Credit: Photo Badminton)

HS Prannoy has been one of the best stories in Indian badminton for a while now. Despite being plagued by a condition similar to acid reflux, he has fought his way to the top. The bad news is that, as of last week, he was laid low by a bout of Chikungunya. And the good news is that he was back to training from yesterday, July 10.

“Yes, he has had a full training session today and will start to be in shape for Paris,” said Pullela Gopichand from Hyderabad. “Dealing with Chikungunya isn’t easy and it is a tribute to his resilience that he is back on court already.”

Having made it to a career-high world ranking of No. 6 in 2023, Prannoy could justly think of the biggest stages of all. He has beaten everyone on the circuit and is perhaps the only player who has pushed Viktor Axelsen each time he has played him in the last few years. After suffering from Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and finding it difficult to breathe, to making it back into the top six of world badminton, Prannoy’s is a story of resilience and courage. Add the Chikungunya comeback to this, and the story becomes even more interesting.

Prannoy isn’t new to adversity. In fact, he had once told me, “Gopi Sir has always told me that if I want to be a very good player and have a long career, I have to keep it in mind that I will lose 2-3 years because of injury. That’s par for the course if you have a long career. That’s what has happened in my case, and the important thing is I have been able to come back from it all and do something tangible.”  

Credit: Badminton Photo

He knew he was playing some quality badminton and had to make the most of his form. “I have had self-doubt in the past,” Prannoy once told me. “I used to ask myself questions if I could make a comeback from injury and play at the top bracket again. Things weren’t easy. When you know you have the ability and yet you can’t get to the top because physically you have issues, which aren’t really in your control, the situation is somewhat helpless. To overcome it and win the battle mentally was perhaps the most important challenge.”

The individual who goes to Paris is a very different Prannoy. One who is finally past GERD, and is mentally strong enough to overcome any kind of physical adversity. In his case, the mental trumps the physical. With Gopi by his side, and his team of trainers and physios working on him, Prannoy should be ready. He will have to make up for lost time. For himself and India.

Suffice to say that if his body holds up and he can stay fit, Prannoy is as good as anyone on the circuit at the moment. “Yes, he has a very good chance,” said Gopi. “If things go well with his fitness, he can surely have a crack.”

That’s the big picture. It is not about the lost years anymore. Rather, it is about the fight. The effort and the struggle. If the process is right, which in this case it is, there is nothing that can stop Prannoy in Paris. He knows it, and so does Gopi.  And now, all of India needs to know it as well. And because of Prannoy’s tireless efforts, each one of his fans has started to think of a good Olympics, GERD or Chikungunya notwithstanding.

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