New Delhi: Last year, during the BWF World Championships in July-August, HS Prannoy felt something wrong with his gut. He would get hungry often, and the oesophagus felt congested with food. At first, he shrugged off the problem, but the gastroesophageal reflux issue persisted. As ambiguity clouded diagnosis, Prannoy continued to struggle on the circuit — Thursday's three-game win over Denmark's Jan O Jorgensen sent Prannoy to his maiden quarter-final since the Championships.
"I could hardly play. I was really struggling in the PBL and I could not find the issue. I knew there was some problem, but I thought I will get better if I train better or change some medication. Eventually, I had to come back to basics and start all over again. Slowly, things started falling into place and I could co-relate so many things that were happening," he said.
The 26-year-old switched multiple doctors, none of whom could identify or address his condition. He then decided to skip this year's Badminton Nationals in Guwahati and flew to the USA to see a doctor. Still far from prime fitness, Prannoy is nevertheless happy to be able to compete again.
At the ongoing India Open, he first beat Thailand's Kantaphon Wangcharoen in three games on Wednesday, before getting the better of Jorgensen in another three-setter. The first match kept him on the court for 68 minutes; the second lasted 67 minutes.
"I am slowly getting back to full fitness. It has been a while since I last played such long matches and it feels good to be on the winning side. The body will slowly get used to playing long matches," the World No 24 said.
Prannoy's road to recovery required him to make a slew of lifestyle changes. His every activity, the shuttler said, is closely monitored by the coaches and team's physios.
"It is good for me that I have started this year with a lot of changes in my training and other aspects of my game, plus my lifestyle, which had to change. There were a lot of changes related to my food, sleep and recovery. Right now, everything is monitored on a regular basis so that my coach and physio are aware of what I am doing," he said.
Among the first casualties of these changes were the things he loved to eat. He had to forego mushrooms, bacons, milk and eggs. While he didn't reveal what he is actually recommended to consume, Prannoy did inform that "these things were allergens and I had to get rid of them."
"These things irritate the gut in some people, and that is what causes all the issues with the body. Breathing is one thing that is related to the gut. When you have a gut infection, the food doesn't digest properly and you feel like it's not going down...the oesophagus tends to shut down...I could feel the food was not going down, and I was hungry all day," he said.
Another long haul
Thursday was another long haul for Prannoy, who beat World No 22 Jorgensen 21-19, 20-22, 21-17. The Dane, himself on a comeback trail post a heel injury, showed glimpses of his potential in the chastening loss, but Prannoy held his own.
The Indian unleashed a barrage of body smashes to amass crucial points and Jorgensen eventually fell short after a brave fight.
"He (Jorgensen) plays a lot of unorthodox strokes, and once he gets into a rhythm, he is difficult to stop. The idea was to keep the shuttle in play and go for the kill when the opportunity presented," Prannoy said.
Jorgensen rued missed chances and blamed unforced errors for his loss. "I gave away way too many easy points and didn't grab my chances. I hope to come back stronger," he said. With this result, Prannoy extended his all-win record against Jorgensen to 4-0 and booked a last-eight clash against another Dane, World No 4 Viktor Axelsen.
Updated Date: Mar 29, 2019 09:26:48 IST