Mumbai: HS Prannoy played a major role in India’s maiden triumph in the Thomas Cup which concluded Sunday in Bangkok. In the final however, HS Prannoy did not have to play a match as the Indians took an unassailable 3-0 lead. However, in both the quarterfinals and semifinals Prannoy won the decisive rubber against Malaysia and Denmark respectively.
India and Malaysia were tied 2-2 in the quarterfinal clash and everything depended on Prannoy’s match against Jun Hao Leong. The Indian shuttler defeated the Malaysian opponent 21-13, 21-8. Prannoy encountered the same situation in the semis clash with Denmark and the 29-year-old from Kerala to prevail over Rasmus Gemke in three games, coming back after losing the first game to win 12-21, 21-9, 21-12.
Prannoy has won a bronze medal in boys’ singles at the 2010 World Junior Championships. He also has a silver medallist at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. In team competitions his best result was the gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, bronze medals in Asian Team Championships in 2016 and 2020 besides. However, the Thomas Cup gold last week is certainly the best Prannoy has ever achieved.
Prannoy talks about the Thomas Cup triumph, its role in his career, and its impact on Indian badminton. Excerpts:
Q: Where will you place this title in the list of your achievements and for a team?
Prannoy: This is the biggest victory in my life. And no individual or team achievements of mine will come close to this. We knew we had the ability to get a medal, the team had the ability for sure. But never thought we can win this, not even in my dream I ever thought we can become World Champions. Winning a tournament of this level is always very tough and to make that happen is incredible. I am very glad that we could make it happen.
Q: How do you think this will impact Indian badminton?
Prannoy: This victory is huge for India. This win is just not for us but for the next generation. The upcoming generation of players needs to believe that it’s possible to win and that is why for me and all of us here it was ‘kutch karke jana hain’. And we are very happy that we could do something that no one has done. These 10 days will be the most unforgettable moments of our lives.
Q: What do you think was the difference between this team and the previous ones that reached the quarterfinals but could not go beyond?
Prannoy: We always knew we had individual brilliance but playing a team championships and winning a Thomas Cup was never in our dreams. We had huge team bonding and we believed we could do something special. And after the quarterfinal win, we promised ourselves we will not let this opportunity go.
Q: The lack of depth in China’s current teams is one of the reasons for the field being so open this time? What are your thoughts on this aspect of Thomas Cup 2022?
Prannoy: Thomas Cup is a competition that not only tests the skills of individual players but also the depth of a country’s talent. It is one of the reasons why before this edition, only five nations had managed to win the Thomas Cup. So it is one of the most prestigious team events and the most difficult one too. You can not underestimate any team in such an event. We defeated two of the powerhouses, Malaysia, who are five times champions, and Indonesia who are 14 times title winners. That speaks volumes for our players.