Kottayam: H S Prannoy, one of the six finalists for the Manorama Sports Star 2017, has been a vital cog in the Indian juggernaut which has been a roll in men's badminton in recent years.
Pullela Gopichand, the chief national coach for the Indian badminton team, had predicted a few years ago that Prannoy would be a world beater in 2016, but it was in 2017 the 25-year-old revealed his true self.
His giant-killing spree culminated in some stupendous title wins last year including the US Open Grand Prix Gold. Prannoy also continued his upward journey in the ranking list and rose to career-best 11 in 2017.
Prannoy has already etched his name in the history books with an enviable record on the international stage and an impressive trophy cabinet. Out of the 261 matches, he has won as many as 165 while losing only 96.
The year 2017 has been very special for Prannoy. After bowing out in the second round of both the Hong Kong Open Super Series and the China Open Super Series, he bounced back in the French Open Super Series and reached the semifinals with some stunning performances. He packed off some of the heavyweights in the fray before surrendering in the semifinal to eventual champion and World No. 2 Kidambi Srikanth.
Prannoy exacted sweet revenge of his heart-wrenching loss to Srikanth by beating him in the men’s singles final of the 82nd Senior National Championship.
Prannoy continued his rich vein of form throughout the season, reaching quarterfinals in the Denmark Open, Japan Open and New Zealand Open. In the Indonesia Open, he stormed into the semis by toppling Olympic champion Chen Long of China, and world No. 1 and three-time Olympic silver medalist Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. Remarkably, his world ranking at that time was only 25.
Son of Thirumuttam Veettil Sunil Kumar and Haseena of Anayara, Thiruvananthapuram, Prannoy picked up his first racket at the age of nine, having watched his father playing for the Air Force team. Within a year, Sunil Kumar, who served as his son’s first coach, saw great potential in Prannoy and sent him to a training center run by the state sports council. After clearing Class X from the Kendriya Vidyalaya, Akkulam, he joined the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad.
Prannoy announced his arrival on the international scene by winning bronze at the Junior World Cup in 2010. The same year, he grabbed silver in boys’ singles at the Summer Youth Olympics. The badminton world sat up and took note of Prannoy after he stunned former Olympic champion Lin Dan of China three years ago. In the years that followed, he went on to win several major titles including the Swiss Open and Indonesian Masters.
The opportunity provided by the Gopichand Academy to train with the country’s top players was what helped him to grow into a player of international stature.
“I’m happy to have been selected as a finalist for the Manorama Sports Star 2017. It is a great honor. Undoubtedly, any recognition will motivate sportsperson to aim higher. I’m gearing up for the challenges ahead including the Asian Games and the World Championships. I congratulate all the finalists for the Manorama Sports Star 2017 and wish them all success,” he said.
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