Feels good to be called an Arjuna Awardee, says Sai Praneeth

Shuttler B. Sai Praneeth received a huge boost ahead of the World Championships in Basel after he was conferred with the Arjuna Award.

B. Sai Praneeth (r) along with his parents and younger brother. (File Photo)   -  Special Arrangement

B. Sai Praneeth, one of the leading shuttlers from India now in Basel (Switzerland) for the World championship starting Monday, feels the timing of Arjuna Award could not have been more perfect as he enters the prestigious championship with the hope of putting up his best performance ever.

“Coming ahead of the World championship, it does lift your morale a lot. Though it is a different game altogether once you enter the court in such a big event,” Praneeth told Sportstar from Basel.

“Yes, it feels good to be called an Arjuna Awardee for it is also a recognition for all the results you have produced over the years,” he added.

The 26-year-old Praneeth said he did not give any thoughts to the Arjuna Award this time around.

“In 2017, I was really hopeful of getting it as there was no other contender in badminton. I was a little bit disappointed. So, my focus was never on the Award this time and it is in a way a pleasant surprise,” he said.

Focus on Worlds

On the World Championship, the 2017 Singapore Open winner said that the venue is the same where they play the Swiss Open Grand Prix (he was runner-up early this year) and hopes to put in an improved performance.

“As they say, draw is not the factor. What is important is how well you play your natural game to your potential on the given day and consistently right through the championship,” says the shuttler who admires Saina Nehwal.

For his part, Praneeth’s father, B. Seshadri Dikshithulu, is equally elated with the announcement.

“This is a great honour and we sincerely believe that Sai deserves this and owes it a lot to his first coach late Nani Prasad of the then SAAP and his grandparents Ch. Shivashankar Rao and Mahalakshmi who encouraged him a lot,” he said.

Photo in Sportstar

He further said that it was a picture first published in Sportstar when his son won the under-10 national title in Bengaluru that motivated them to let Praneeth pursue badminton.

“Yes, that recognition when he won the Cup and the felicitations made us believe that he will be a good badminton player,” he said.