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My focus is to regain fitness ahead of Oly qualification: Pranaav

Left to deal with fitness issues for most part of last season, India’s doubles specialist Pranaav Jerry Chopra is aiming to return to his best form ahead of the Olympic qualification events.

The 26-year-old had to endure a tough phase last season as he spent most of his time nursing a recurring shoulder injury before a bout of dengue completely derailed his plans.

The Punjab-born shuttler received a huge boost when he, along with Chirag Shetty, clinched the men’s doubles title at the Senior National Championship in Guwahati last week.

“The senior title meant a lot after going through a lot, both mentally and physically,” Pranaav, who forms India’s best mixed doubles pair with N Sikki Reddy, told agencies.

“My focus is to regain full fitness before the Olympic qualification starts by April end,” added the Indian, who was part of the gold-winning mixed team at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Pranaav suffered a shoulder injury in May last and though he recovered to play a few tournaments, it relapsed in September but he couldn’t skip tournaments as he had already sent the entries.

“I had a shoulder issue in May, which needed two weeks of rest but in September it happened again during the Hyderabad Open. This time it had affected the bone but I had to play through pain as we had already sent the entries for Japan and China,” he said.

“My doctor said it will take one month of rest and after that I can do my physiotherapy but in the last week of my recovery I was down with dengue and I was hospitalised in Ludiana for a week and after coming back, it took three months to start training.

“I had pain in joints and other muscles, specially lower body but I played two tournaments in January as I wanted to continue playing. Now I am feeling much better.”

After the China Open in September, Pranaav took a month’s rest but he had to expedite the process of recovery and start preparing for the Syed Modi International in November which was held at Lucknow.

Pranaav and Sikki, who had reached the world top 20 in June last year, were the defending champions and skipping the Lucknow event would have plummeted their ranking further.

They were ousted in the opening round, after going down in straight games to Chinese pair of Ren Xiangyu and Zhou Chaomin at Lucknow.

“I started training in November because I had to play Syed Modi as again we had sent the entry and the fines are huge, so I played but I was not in great shape. From February I started full training,” said Pranaav, who along with Sikki, are ranked world no. 32 now.

Pranaav is now looking for a good performance during the Tokyo Olympic qualification period which starts April 29.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings list which will be published on April 30 next year will be used to allocate spots.

“We will be playing All England, Swiss and India Open. I am not looking at the results. We had a drop in ranking as we couldn’t play 4-5 events. So I would like to regain my fitness and get our ranking up there as we want to qualify for Olympics,” he said.

“My focus was to keep playing before the qualification starts by April end, and regain full fitness by then. So that we can go full on when the qualification starts.”

Pranaav had won the men’s national doubles crown along with Akshay Dewalkar in 2013 and 2015 and the mixed doubles title with Prajakta Sawant in 2010.

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