CHENNAI: No matter how technically accomplished or skillful you are, staying fit is the most important prerequisite for success in sport. While many Indians are gifted, some don’t last long enough in competitive games. India’s latest badminton sensation B Sai Praneeth agrees.
Rocked by injuries in 2016, the Hyderabad player has roared back this year. After winning the Singapore Open Super Series in April, Praneeth clinched the Thailand Grand Prix Gold on Sunday to bag a third international title.
Winning boosts confidence. Though ranked 24th in the world, the right-hander is yet to feature in the World Championship. With the tournament coming up in August in Scotland, Praneeth is hoping to bag a medal. “Six to seven weeks before Singapore Open I trained real hard. That has helped me become fitter and stronger. After the injury last year, this has helped me regain confidence. I hope I can continue this form. There are two more Superseries events in Indonesia and Australia before the Worlds and I want to win a medal there,” Sai Praneeth told Express.
To come back from injury is not easy. There are instances when athletes have had to quit due to faults in recovery. Training under Pullela Gopichand, the 24-year-old credits Mulyo Handoyo for his transformation.
Appointed in December to concentrate on singles players, the man known for coaching Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat to an Olympic gold has tweaked the training regime to help players. “He is very particular about fitness and has helped me evolve. Earlier, we had three sessions that lasted one hour each. Now also, same techniques are used but the duration of these sessions has changed.
Each lasts three hours and more. It is very intense and this is what is required if we are playing in international tournaments. Since I have been in the circuit for some time, these little things have added an edge to my game and playing style,” the Hyderabad lad noted.
The fourth Indian to win a Superseries title thinks the break caused by injuries has had one good effect. These setbacks have given him time to analyse what he is capable of. “The injuries helped to a certain extent. I was not bothered about my strokes, but I knew that I had to work on fitness. Though I missed out on the England Superseries and other tournaments, I have recovered well and If I stay fit, I am sure that I can win more medals.”