New Delhi: Indian shuttler H S Prannoy says the success of winning the Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold has erased his fears of defeat and fuelled a dream of working harder than ever to qualify for 2016 Rio Olympics.
"I think a title was due for me. I reached so many quarterfinals in tournaments, played against top players but I was not winning a title. Many people even told me that I was not playing well. But I knew I could win and I think it came at the right time," Prannoy, who jumped 12 places to reach world no. 31 yesterday, told PTI.
"Now I think the fear of losing is gone. I am not so nervous anymore. Earlier I used to be very nervous in the first two rounds. Now I am able to think on court and manage myself. I am confident on court. Such title wins boost you to train harder," said the 22-year-old, who clinched the maiden title of his career after winning the USD 1,25,000 Indonesian Masters Grand Prix Gold last Sunday.
Asked if Rio Olympics ever crossed his mind, he said: "Well, I had it in my mind earlier this month. I think it is possible for me. I know it is very difficult because there is a lot of competition, there is Parupalli Kashyap, K Srikanth and RMV Gurusaidutt but I know if I can play well, I can do it. But it is too early and I am not thinking about it now."
Ever since his historic silver at 2010 Summer Youth Olympics and runners-up finish at Bahrain International Challenge in 2011, Prannoy has been grappling with injuries. He said it was a tough phase to sit on the sidelines after he hurt his back in 2012.
"I suffered lots of injuries in 2011 and 2012. I hurt my knee in 2011 just before the nationals and then again I injured it in 2012 but my back injury before the Vietnam Open in 2012 was really bad. It took me 5-7 months to recover fully and I lost a lot of time," Prannoy said.
"It was a tough phase. It was difficult looking at my friends playing sitting on the sidelines. Those 5-7 months, you are really lagging behind, you have to really focus and be patient enough to again compete with those guys. You need to have a lot of will power. I knew I have a lot of advantages. I trusted my instinct and it paid off," he said.
Talking about his performance, Prannoy said: "This year, I had played two All India Senior Ranking events. In Pune, I had beaten Sai Praneeth in the final and it gave me a lot of confidence. In Vietnam, the condition was slow and it helped me. In quarters, I was steady, semis was really tough but the final probably was not my day.
"But I was overall happy in Vietnam. I didn't think I will play well in Indonesia because my body was getting tired and the second round and prequarters were on the same day, so it was really tough. But I knew if I win these rounds, I can reach the finals and luckily things worked out."
Prannoy said he has to work on his consistency. "I am looking to play well in the upcoming tournaments, like French Super Series and Bitburger Open Grand Prix Gold. But now I have to be more consistent, that is the harder part. There are lots of expectations," he said.
Asked about his ranking targets, Prannoy said: "I will be happy if I can be inside top 25 by this year end."