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Prannoy Ends 41 Year Asian Games Drought

October 05, 2023 15:46 IST
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HS Prannoy

IMAGES: Haseena Sunil Kumar Prannoy battled his way to the semifinals at the Asian Games. Photograph: Team India/X

By securing a place in the semfinals, Haseena Sunil Kumar Prannoy became the first Indian in 41 years to book a badminton medal in the men's singles at the Asian Games.

Prannoy displayed remarkable mental resilience as he fought back from a challenging 5-11 deficit to claim the first game against Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia, a former All England champion.

In the second game, the 31 year old from Kerala held two match points, but victory slipped away as Lee benefited from some fortunate net cords, resulting in a level score and a game point at 22-21. Lee seized the game, setting the stage for a decisive third game.

Facing discomfort in his back, Prannoy wisely called for a medical timeout to apply a spray.

On resumption, Lee accelerated the pace of the match and executed a powerful body smash and a precise backhand smash, briefly taking control. Prannoy remained undaunted and launched a spirited comeback in the decider.

HS Prannoy

IMAGE: H S Prannoy did not play the team championships final due to a back injury.

In the end, Prannoy earned a hard-fought match point and capitalised on it with a precisely executed smash to secure a memorable victory.

After the gruelling 78-minute battle, he fell to the court in disbelief. He then removed his shirt, pumped his fist in celebration, and embraced Chief Coach Pullela Gopichand.

Prannoy's victory marked a historic moment, ending India's lengthy quest for a men's singles medal at the Asian Games. The last Indian to achieve this feat was Syed Modi, who won a bronze at the Delhi Asiad in 1982.

HS Prannoy

Prannoy, a bronze medallist at the world championships, had dropped out of the Asian Games team championships final due to a back injury.

'I'm not at all in a condition where I could say I'm 80 per cent right,' Prannoy said after the quarterfinal. 'But I think to pull off something like this, I would give a lot of credit to myself. I think the will to fight was always there. So I think that paid off.'

'It is affecting me. But that's how sport is. You can't be 100 per cent every day. But you have to learn to pull off matches even when you're 60 or 70 per cent. I think today was one of those days when I had to do that.'

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