New Delhi | Olympic qualification is on the horizon but star Indian shuttler HS Prannoy is not looking too far ahead and focussing on the next couple of months in his bid to get into 'tournament mode' after a productive off-season.
The 31-year-old Indian, who secured a maiden bronze medal at the Asian Games and World Championships in 2023, suffered a loss to Denmark's Anders Antonsen in the opening round of the Malaysia Super 1000 last week in Kuala Lumpur.
"You can't be disappointed with a couple of losses when you are playing 19-20 tournaments in a year. There is no time to sulk. I had a bad Malaysia Open but someone like Anders going on to win the tournament shows the competition," he said on the eve of the India Open Super 500 starting here on Tuesday.
"So I am not worried. A lot of good things happened in 2023, I mean to have both medals in a month is something I wouldn't have thought of in my dreams. But a lot of work is left.
"Competition is so hard in men's singles, to perform every single week is tough but that is what I am trying to improve, obviously target is to win big tournaments consistently." Talking about his training sessions during the off-season, Prannoy said: "The focus was mainly on strength because we don't get time to push the strength with so many tournaments happening.
"December was a month where I could go back to basic and start again from scratch and do a lot of strength-training. It might take a little time to get into that tournament mode.
"To have that strength carry forward for the next 3-4 months is very important and there would be some tournaments where you might not feel well but you will slowly and gradually get into that tournament speed."
"Want to win bigger titles in the next few years"
The world number 8 said he wants to bigger titles in the next few years and gave himself a lot of credit for being able to compete with the young crop of players.
"It is always hectic so it is important to be happy. I am in a good space but there are times when you are not in a good space, there are injuries and some physical issues and it is then when the team comes in and how you get back from that is what gets the results.
"To be playing in the top 10 for the last one and a half years, I give a lot of credit to myself for playing consistent badminton because with the competition out there, I mean, all of them are in their 20s and to be able to consistently match their speed, agility, and endurance means a lot of work is being done." Prannoy said he is looking to play 5-7 tournaments to seal his Olympic qualification and then achieve peak form ahead of the Paris Games.
"Paris Olympics is still a long shot. There is still a lot of time. I'm just taking 2 to 3 weeks at a time and not looking beyond that right now. I would love to compete in Paris but the focus is on the next couple of months.
"Until April 2024, we have the qualification period so until that we might push for more tournaments but the plan is to pick and choose after you qualify and then gradually peaking before the Olympics." Prannoy fought a lot of health issues, including blisters in his leg, gut issues, and after-effects of COVID-19, to finally make a successful comeback to international badminton.
The man from Thiruvananthapuram said a lot of the success is due to the training plan chalked out by his team.
"It is important to keep in mind six to eight months of calendar and plan what all months you have to train," said Prannoy, who won the Malaysia Masters Super 500 and had a final finish at Australia Open Super 500 in 2023.
"That's what the entire team has been able to get good communication and we were able to plan a good training program in the last one or two years so this is what has changed.
"It has helped to pick a tournament. Even if you are not fit, it is better to leave that tournament and focus on the next one as there are many events. It is important to respect the body and take decisions accordingly." Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu will be missing in action this week as she recovers from a knee injury and Prannoy hoped she would come back stronger and achieve her dream of winning an Olympic gold in Paris.
"I think she is back to training. I heard she will be starting to play next month. To have someone like Sindhu still trying to prove that she is the best in the world...she has already won two Olympic medals, her dream is to win gold.
"She already has the experience of preparing for the Olympics, so she is ahead of everyone. So getting in the Olympic cycle she will know what needs to be done so that her body is in perfect condition by the end of July."