Updated March 4th, 2024 at 22:14 IST

Sai Praneeth retires from international badminton, to join US club as head coach

The 31-year-old from Hyderabad decided to hang his racquet after battling nagging injuries since the Tokyo Games, ending a fairly successful career during which he won the 2017 Singapore Open.

Sai Praneeth | Image:PTI
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World Championships bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth on Monday brought curtains to his international badminton career to pursue a coaching career in the USA.

The 31-year-old from Hyderabad decided to hang his racquet after battling nagging injuries since the Tokyo Games, ending a fairly successful career during which he won the 2017 Singapore Open.

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"With a mix of emotions, I pen down these words to bid farewell and announce my retirement from the sport that has been my lifeblood for over 24 years," he posted on his Instagram account.

"Today, as I embark on a new chapter, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the journey that brought me here.

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"Badminton, you have been my first love, my constant companion, shaping my character and giving purpose to my existence. The memories we’ve shared, the challenges we’ve overcome, will forever be etched in my heart," he wrote.

Praneeth will be beginning a new innings now as he is set to join as head coach of Triangle Badminton Academy in the US next month.

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"I will be joining mid-April. I will be the head coach of the club. So, I will be overseeing all the players there. Of course, once I am there, we will discuss elaborately about the role," told PTI.

During an international career that lasted over two decades, Praneeth had some fine moments but the 2017 Singapore Open Super Series win and the bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships in Basel, Switzerland, were the most twinkling among them.

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Praneeth had reached a career-best ranking of world number 10 and also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics but couldn't make a mark, losing all the matches to make a shock exit at the group stage.

"To my family - my grandparents, parents, and my loving wife Swetha - your endless encouragement has been the bedrock of my success. Without your unwavering support, none of this would have been possible," said the 2010 world junior bronze medallist.

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"A heartfelt thank you to Pullela Gopichand anna, the Gopichand Academy, and the entire coaching and support staff. I also thank my coaches from childhood Arif sir, and Govardhan sir." Praneeth had a memorable 2019 as he finished runner-up at Swiss Open Super 300, before becoming the first Indian male shuttler then in 36 years to secure a medal in the BWF World Championships. He was recognised for his feat with an Arjuna award.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a disaster for Praneeth as multiple injuries bogged him down. He did win a National Games gold in 2022 but his struggles continued in international circuit as he soon crashed out of the top 100.

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"It was really frustrating as my body was frequently breaking down," said Praneeth, who last played at the Guwahati Masters in December 2023.

Coach Siddiqui quits, joining Oregon Academy in US

Mohammed Siyadatullah Siddiqui, who has played a pivotal role in the success of India's top shuttlers, has quit the Gopichand Academy and will be joining the Oregon Badminton Academy in the USA.

The 40-year-old Siyadutt has been one of the most prominent faces travelling with the top Indian shuttlers such as Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy for international tournaments over the years.

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"I feel really emotional. It has been quite a journey for me. Last few days I have been literally crying at the academy. I will be leaving on March 7 and joining next week," Siyadutt said.

"My brother-in-law stays in the US, he got me the offer and then it all fell into place. It was a good offer and my kids are also growing. So, they will be joining me there in June after their academic year." A former player, Siyadutt had joined as a coach at the Gopichand Academy in Gachibowli in 2004, guiding several Indian shuttlers.

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He has been a part of many success stories, including India's epic Thomas Cup win and the 2018 Commonwealth Games team gold. 

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Published March 4th, 2024 at 22:14 IST