Star Indian shuttler HS Prannoy said he was a tad disappointed to miss out on a World championships gold medal, but said the bronze meant a lot to him, calling it as the “first starting step” on way to the coveted title.
Prannoy’s dream run at the World Championships ended after he lost 21-18 13-21 14-21 to world number 3 Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand in the men’s singles semifinal to sign off with a bronze medal.
The win extended India’s record of having at least one medallist in the showpiece since 2011. “For me, this bronze medal means so much, personally, because it has been almost 12 years in the circuit, you always want to have those big medals in your hand,” he said after the match.
“Yes, you are disappointed for not getting the gold, but the first starting step is with bronze.” The 31-year-old from Kerala thanked the coaching staff and his family for backing him.
“A lot of people have done a lot of hard work in the past few years and a lot of things came in place this week. Thanks to all of them who have been working day and night with me so that I can play better and my entire family backing me from home,” he said.
“It is not easy, because you are in the circuit the entire year and hardly get time for family and friend.
“So, these kind of sweet memories are always good; you are feel motivated to go back and work. Otherwise, it is really tough to do the whole thing.”
The 31-year-old squandered an opening game advantage and a 5-1 lead in the second as Vitidsarn, a three-time former world junior champion, displayed his mental fortitude and solid defence to seal a second successive final spot.
Prannoy came to the match after playing two three-game matches which lasted close to 70 minutes and he admitted it took a toll on his body.
“When you are on the court you feel you have done everything, but when you finish off, you feel you could have done more. Physically I couldn’t push through today, the legs were not in great shape,” the world number 9 said.
India’s top-ranked men’s singles shuttler made a solid start, but signs of exhaustion set in from the second game.
“I was trying hard from inside, not letting go easily, but credit to him. He was putting in shuttle continuously at a good speed and not making any easy errors at any point,” he said.
“At the third game, I lost that first half, it was crucial. You can’t be down 5-1. I have to really respect how my body taking such matches, it is not easy to play 70 minutes back to back for four days.
“He is much younger; he is able to recover much faster. But I am really happy with the way things went this week.”
Prime minister Narendra Modi last Sunday (27) praised Prannoy and said he is a true inspiration to all badminton enthusiasts.
In a post on X, Modi said, “What a brilliant achievement by @PRANNOYHSPRI at BWF World Championships 2023! Congratulations to him on winning the Bronze medal.”
“His skill and hard work have shone brightly throughout the tournament. He is a true inspiration to all badminton enthusiasts,” the prime minister said.
Prannoy became only the fifth Indian men’s singles player to win a World Championships medal.
Kidambi Srikanth (silver), Lakshya Sen (bronze), B Sai Praneeth (bronze) and Prakash Padukone (bronze) are the other medallists in men’s singles.