“It has been an incredible journey. Never thought this could happen. We were thinking of winning a medal but not definitely gold,” said H.S. Prannoy, one of the architects of India’s historic triumph in the Thomas Cup in Bangkok last week.
“It is a collective effort. A result of a decade-long effort of Gopi sir (chief national coach and now BAI vice-president). He changed the badminton scene with all his hard work,” Prannoy said in a chat with Sportstar.
“It was he (Gopi) who saw that we could compete against the world’s best. The credit also goes to the entire support staff in Hyderabad who have been working tirelessly with all the players at the Gopi Academy,” the World No. 23 said.
“I think one of the secrets of India’s success in the Thomas Cup is that everyone gave more than 100 per cent. And, importantly we all wanted to change the perception that we as a team was not a force to reckon with in Thomas Cup. So, in this context, this epic triumph is for the next generation of players that we can do at this level,” the 29-year-old Prannoy explained.
“I don’t think there is any one turning point. Each match was very crucial. Importantly, every singles player and the doubles combination of Satwik and Chirag rose to the occasion when the team looked to
them,” he said. “Lakshya was special under pressure, Srikanth came up with one of his best displays consistently through the championship,” he said.
Speaking of his performance which saw him pull off thrilling wins in the quarter-final and semifinal (the second despite an injury), Prannoy said he had nothing to prove to anyone.
“I am extremely thankful to BAI for giving me the chance. And, I am glad to have contributed to the team’s victory,” he said.
“There was never a thought of quitting despite the injury in the semifinal. Initially there was a lot of pain, but I was in no mood to give up. Luckily, from the second game onwards I was feeling more comfortable,” he said about his semifinal show which was decisive in taking India into the final.
On team bonding, Prannoy said he and Srikanth stepped up a bit as the senior players. “That is what needs to change. Honestly, I never believed this kind of bonding would happen in the team. Well, we all believed we had the firepower to win in this Thomas cup,” he said.
Was it a conscious effort to build such bonding? “Yes, certainly. In team events, the body language is key as is the case with most of the Asian big powers in badminton. Every single day we had meetings and
the intense desire to win was palpable,” Prannoy said.
“We badly need this kind of atmosphere in the team especially when you are playing for the country. Grateful that I could play my bit in the team’s victory,” he said. “Yes, we should continue to show the same kind of camaraderie and bonding in all future events,” he added.
“I don’t set any individual goals. My philosophy has always been simple - enjoy the process, put in the effort and the results will be in place,” he signed off.
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