Indian shuttler HS Prannoy said he will continue to fight for what he deserves by nominating himself for the Arjuna Award this year. He also said that he is not the first athlete from Kerala to face a bias from the Badminton Federation of India (BAI).
Earlier this week, Prannoy had lashed out at the federation over not being nominated for the second consecutive year. In a tweet which has since been deleted, Prannoy wrote: “The guy who has medals in CWG and Asian Championships not even been recommended by the Association. And the guy who was not there on any of these major events recommended. #thiscountryisajoke.”
Explaining the tweet, Prannoy said, “It was something I felt I needed to do. I wanted to convey that this is what has happened and in say 5-10 years from now, there should not be any cases where people are targeted and their names are not sent for something like this.”
“They came out with their own version that (Kidambi) Srikanth and I have disciplinary issues. I don’t want to comment on that because I can now apply for the nomination on my own. I don’t need to go through the association,” Prannoy told indianexpress.com.
He said that no one from BAI had reached out to him following the tweet.
BAI has recommended the doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, along with singles player Sameer Verma, for the national sports award this year.
After Prannoy took to Twitter, an unnamed BAI official was quoted as saying in a Times of India report that the player’s name had been dropped ‘on disciplinary grounds’, and that Prannoy and Srikanth had hurt India’s chances in the semifinals of the Badminton Asia Team Championship in February.
The duo had left the tournament before the semifinals to prepare for Barcelona Masters, with Tokyo Olympics on their minds. India had settled for bronze after losing 3-2 to Indonesia in their semifinal.
“If they want to do something like this, they have the power to do it since the association is above the players. They have done their part and given their punishment. Now I can at least proceed with it my way and put in my request for Arjuna Awards,” he said.
‘Was dropped last year too’
The sports ministry has allowed athletes to nominate themselves for the national sports awards this year, extending the deadline for submitting applications till June 22.
“I will definitely be fighting for it, I will not let it go. I want to see how far I can go because I think I deserve the award, looking at my performance and lack of recognition last year,” said Prannoy.
The 27-year-old won a mixed team gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and a men’s singles bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Championships in Wuhan, but wasn’t recommended for the national award last year either. He had made his disappointment known at that time as well.
If you ever want your name in the Awards list , make sure you have people who will get your name to the list. Performance is least considered in our country. Sad state of our county but can’t help it. Let go and just play until you can. #arjunaawards
— PRANNOY HS (@PRANNOYHSPRI) August 17, 2019
The former World No. eight said, “From what I know, my name did reach the committee for the Awards last year but it was dropped later on and given to someone else. So I am not really blaming the association for the snub last year. But this year they are having disciplinary issues with me and Srikanth. I don’t want to comment on it since we all know what happened over there.”
‘No one to speak for Kerala players’
Prannoy claimed that he is not the first shuttler from Kerala who has been a victim of such bias. “There have been a lot of players in the past who have not received recognition and I feel that their names should have been there. There are many shuttlers worthy of getting Arjuna, especially from my state Kerala,” he said.
He said there is no one from Kerala to push the case of badminton players from the state, adding that such a figure is necessary for national awards.
“Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar are some of the best doubles players ever produced by Kerala but they have not received the award. These things have always happened to players from my state. There is no one to speak for us. Getting these kinds of awards needs a push and a pull,” he said.
‘Physically in better shape’
Sports facilities have only recently re-opened in Kerala after the national lockdown, but Prannoy said he is in a good physical shape because he has been working on his fitness.
Speaking from his home in Thiruvananthapuram, he said, “Things were banned for the first two months. We only had the option of working out then. But over the last month, things have become better in Kerala. Stadiums have opened throughout the country and I also started playing ten days ago.”
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“Fitness wise I feel I am at a better place since I have been working on it for the last one-and-a-half months. There have been many breaks due to lack of motivation, but I feel I have still managed to push on most of the days. I am physically in better shape,” he said.
‘Anything can happen after Covid-induced break’
The shuttler admitted that his chances of claiming an Olympic spot look bleak, but said the long break could work in his favour. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has already said that tournaments cancelled this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic will be completed in the first 17 weeks of next year.
“Tournaments will line up from September. We need four-five weeks of regular training before that. Things aren’t that great for me for an Olympic qualification, since I didn’t do exceedingly well last year. It would be really tough for me to get that Olympic spot, but anything can happen with this big break that has come in.
“I am sure everyone is playing much differently after this. There might be players who do not play up to their level after this. We have to just wait and watch how it goes. I will give my best in each and every tournament leading to the Olympic qualification,” he said.
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