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HS Prannoy: A tale of passion and perseverance

The shuttler overcame a career-threatening GERD diagnosis to stay on course for Paris 2024.

HS Prannoy: A tale of passion and perseverance

H.S Prannoy is confident of returning home with a medal from Paris 2024. (Photo credit: SAI)


Dheepan Brunner M

Published: 28 Jun 2024 2:17 PM GMT

HS Prannoy, a prominent figure in Indian badminton, has achieved his Olympic qualification for Paris 2024.

That Prannoy made the cut his first Olympics is a testament to his relentless passion, perseverance and love for badminton. His journey, much like most athletes, has also been riddled with numerous challenges, each of which needed steely resolve to overcome.

An early start

Born on 17th July 1992 in Delhi, Prannoy Haseena Sunil Kumar, now known as HS Prannoy, originally hails from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Prannoy discovered his love for badminton from his father, Sunil Kumar, a retired air force officer who played badminton at the time. Watching his father play outdoor tournaments in Kerala inspired Prannoy, and he began playing the sport at the age of eight.

A quick learner, the young Prannoy picked up the basics of the sport and made speedy progress.

Within 6 to 8 months of picking up the racquet, he began playing in tournaments. Prannoy trained with his father and other coaches in Thiruvananthapuram until the age of 16, before moving to national camps in Hyderabad in 2008.

Adapting to a professional setup

It was in Hyderabad and when training at the Pullela Gopichand Academy that Prannoy experienced the rigors of professional badminton for the very first time.

Having never done weight-training before, the new regimen was both mentally and physically challenging for him during the first few years. To add to his woes, a language barrier meant that making new friends was difficult as well.

That said, he stayed the course with a near-term goal of becoming the No. 1 junior player.

Breakthrough performances

When training at the Pullela Gopichand Academy Prannoy began to participate in junior and senior national-level competitions.

He made his first breakthrough by winning a bronze medal at the BWF World Junior Championships in Mexico in 2010. In the same year, he improved his medal color by winning a silver medal at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics held in Singapore.

Prannoy continued his success the following year by winning a silver medal at the Bahrain International event.

Injuries, however, put the breaks on a otherwise stellar start to his career. After a rather long two-year recovery period, Prannoy was back in the hunt.

Major post-injury achievements


  • Silver Medal at the Tata International Open.


  • Ended the year as the third-highest ranked Indian at World No. 21
  • Winner of the Manorama Indian Open All India Senior Ranking Badminton Tournament, Kerala
  • Winner of the V. V. Natu Memorial All India Senior Ranking Badminton Tournament, Pune
  • Semifinalist at India Open Grand Prix, Bitburger Open Grand Prix, and Macau Open Grand Prix
  • Silver Medalist at the Vietnam Open Grand Prix
  • Winner of the Indonesia Open Grand Prix.


  • Reached the semifinals before losing to compatriot Srikanth Kidambi
  • Achieved a huge upset win over World No. 2 Jan Østergaard Jørgensen of Denmark.


  • Winner of the Swiss Open Grand Prix
  • Gold and Silver Medalist in the Men’s Team and Men’s Singles events at the South Asian Games in Guwahati
  • Bronze Medalist in the Men’s Team at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Hyderabad.


  • Played for Mumbai Rockets in the 2nd season of the Premier Badminton League and remained unbeaten throughout the tournament
  • Winner of the U.S. Open Grand Prix by defeating compatriot Parupalli Kashyap.

GERD diagnosis

In 2018 after winning a bronze medal in Asian Championships held in Wuhan and a gold medal in the mixed team event of the Commonwealth Games in Australia, Prannoy took part in BWF World Championships in Nanjing, where he was diagnosed with Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

The chronic disorder, characterized by symptoms such as heartburn, abdominal and chest pain, and vocal cord inflammation, was yet another hurdle that Prannoy now had to deal with.

To counter the diagnosis, Prannoy focused on improving his food habits to address his gut issues and found the right strength and conditioning regimen. He continuously worked on his diet and, more importantly, on the breathing techniques necessary for badminton.

Although he was never previously interested in meditation or breathing exercises, incorporating these practices helped his body respond better, allowing him to sustain in longer matches.

Spectacular comeback

His health condition notwithstanding, Prannoy's return was nothing short of spectacular, as he defeated two higher-ranked players in 2021.

Although he didn’t win any championships that year, his performance was noteworthy.

He defeated reigning Olympic Champion Viktor Axelsen at the Indonesia Masters and World No. 9 Ng Ka Long and World No.10 Rasmus Gemke at the 2021 BWF World Championships thus stamping his comeback at the global stage.

And the return was complete at the historic Thomas Cup triumph.

With Prannoy playing instrumental role by winning decisive matches in both quarter-final and semi-final to take India to the final. India would eventually go on to secure their maiden Thomas Cup victory in 2022.

A career-best

After winning the bronze medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023, which marked India’s first in men’s singles at the Asian Games in 41 years, Prannoy participated in the BWF World Championships in Copenhagen and repeated his feat by winning another bronze medal.

This achievement propelled him to a career-best ranking of World No. 6.

Olympics and beyond

With Paris 2024 being Prannoy's maiden Olympics, the shuttler senses that there will be additional pressure to win a medal for his country.

Even though it is similar to other major badminton tournaments, he believes the pressure in the quadrennial event will be distinct.

He asserts that it is crucial to strengthen one’s mental resilience to face these challenges more than the physical ones. All said and done, he is confident of returning home with a medal.

Even as Prannoy leaves no stone unturned in in his preparation for the Paris Olympics, his journey serves as an inspiration to young players to pick up the racket, just as he did by watching his father play.

With his talent, perseverance, and an unwavering support of his fans, he has already established himself as one of India's most valuable badminton players and a true champion.

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