B. Sai Praneeth: ‘Arjuna award gave me extra motivation for World C’ships’

The Indian shuttler is happy to have returned with a bronze medal.

File Photo: Sai Praneeth says he cherishes his win over Jonatan Cristie in the quarterfinals.   -  Getty Images

B. Sai Praneeth feels his performance at the World Championships in Basel, Switzerland, can just be the beginning of a new chapter in his career.

Praneeth clinched the bronze medal in the men’s singles category with a semifinal finish at the Championships.

“Obviously, [the bronze medal] means [a lot] to me for it came after a 36-year-long wait in men’s singles for India,” he said at the Gopi Chand Academy where he trains. Interestingly, Saina Nehwal was training in the backdrop.

‘Happy’

“There was no extra pressure and I entered this event like any other championship. But, I am happy with the end result,” he said on Tuesday. “Definitely, Arjuna Award gave that extra motivation for me in the Worlds but again it is never easy to compete at that level. But beating [Jonatan] Christie was something special which I cherish,” he said.

Praneeth felt once P. V. Sindhu overcame Tai Tzu Ying in the quarterfinals, the entire Indian contingent felt she could pull it off. “It was a fantastic finally from Indian point of view,” he said.

“From India in men’s singles, only two will be selected from India for Olympics if your are in the top-16 and so the competition is really tough among ourselves,” he said with a smile.

‘Endurance and intensity training’

“This time I got enough time to prepare for the Super Series events and also for this World championship and so the training sessions have really helped me,” he said.

“Now, the focus is on improving my all-round game and fitness levels to be a much better player,” Praneeth said. “It is more of endurance and intensity training now and this is good for us,” he added.

“There are so many tournaments and you just can’t focus only one event for you have to keen an eye on the world rankings to stay in the race. For gold in tournament and failure in the other events will not help you. You have to be consistent to be a different player to be in the race for an Olympic medal which is the biggest goal I am chasing now,” he concluded.