HS Prannoy opens up about mental challenges of COVID recovery

The Indian badminton player contracted COVID-19 in December but is now ready to make his comeback at the Thailand Open.

By Utathya Nag ·

Having recovered from COVID-19 only last month, Indian badminton player HS Prannoy is looking to take baby steps as he returns to the court at the Thailand Open, which begins in Bangkok on Tuesday.

The year 2020 had been a challenging one for everyone but, perhaps, more so for the 28-year-old Prannoy. He last played competitive badminton at the Barcelona Masters in February before the pandemic halted the global sporting calendar.

Things only got worse for the Thiruvananthapuram-based shuttler as he tested positive for the novel coronavirus in early December after attending the marriage ceremony of fellow Indian badminton player RMV Guru Sai Dutt.

HS Prannoy has already tested negative and is preparing for his comeback, but the trauma of having contracted COVID still lingers.

“It’s a very different kind of illness. The major problem is psychological. If you feel any pain, you think it’s due to COVID,” Prannoy told the Badminton World Federation (BWF) website.

“Mentally, you are very stressed for two weeks, because you don’t know what’s going to happen, and doctors aren’t able to tell you either,” he added.

Fortunately, HS Prannoy was largely asymptomatic and had no serious scares over the course of his recovery.

“But you don’t know what it’s doing to your body. I’ve had a weird pain in my ribcage, but everything looks normal on an X-ray or MRI. There are side-effects, and you are on heavy medication, which makes your body weak,” he explained.

After receiving a clean chit from the doctors, HS Prannoy resumed training mid-December before flying to Thailand in January for the resumption of the BWF calendar.

The 2018 Asian championships bronze medallist, however, is treading with caution.

“You can’t really judge how this is going to act on you. Your lung capacity reduces. I could feel it when I came back on court. Your lungs don’t work really well, you have to train them again. I’ve taken it slow the last three weeks,” Prannoy said.

Set to play his first competitive match in almost a year, HS Prannoy faces a tough test right off the bat against Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia in the first round of the Yonex Thailand Open.

Jia is ranked No. 10 in the BWF men’s singles rankings, while Prannoy is placed 28th.