Sai Praneeth rues missed tournament owing to ‘unclear test’


B Sai Praneeth typically dabbles in trick photographs that muddle the readability of opponents. He’s not accustomed to trickier riddles outdoors the courtroom, nonetheless, a few microscopic virus. Like when his sixth COVID-19 check in Thailand final month had well being authorities time period it “unclear.”

“I was in a bio secure bubble for weeks and five tests had returned negative,” he remembers the confusion. “So when they told me on the morning of the start of the second tournament that my test report was ‘unclear,’ I couldn’t understand. I thought what is ‘unclear?’ And how can that mean positive?”

The World No 13 and India’s prime singles shuttler, most certainly to qualify for the Tokyo Games, was pressured to withdraw from the tournament – one thing he can consider and rue on his return, solely after he ensured he was safely again house.

His nightmare was shorn of any complaints at that time, as a result of Sai believed escalating it with out fully comprehending what was occurring would have jeopardised his teammates’ possibilities. But now he’s glad that the Badminton Association of India (BAI) sought a clarification from Badminton World Federation (BWF) on why he was not allowed to play regardless of unfavorable PCR checks, and two antibody positives, signalling that the virus was properly previous being infectious.

That nothing really occurred when it comes to signs means he’s not likely certain about what to say about his “recovery.”

“I was completely fine before, when I was there and after that. It was our sixth test since arrival in Thailand on the 14th day in Bangkok. They called me in the morning and said the ‘report was unclear.’ I was not told if that meant positive or negative,” he says.

Then the Tournament Control (organising physique with Thai well being authorities) got here and did an antibody check.

“They asked me if I’d had Corona before. I told them there were no symptoms, but if it had been asymptomatic there was no way to know.”

The scenario will get muddled thereon.

“They said I was negative for antibodies, which means I was still positive for carrying the virus. I didn’t understand but I was taken to the hospital, and then to the attached quarantine hotel and told that if I showed symptoms I’d be admitted to hospital.”

In case no signs confirmed up, he could be subjected to a recent PCR and antibody check.

“That last one showed I had antibodies. So I asked them for earlier report from two days back which they had only verbally communicated. I actually had antibodies even in that!”

The guidelines of the resort quarantine said that he’d want to keep put for 10 days after two unfavorable checks.

“But after three days, they said now you can leave for your country!” he provides. Completely stumped, he returned to India.

“My doctor here saw the report and said I possibly had Covid 3-4 weeks earlier. I knew I’d done nothing to break the bubble. BWF also can’t do anything because this was not in their control. But those who tested should’ve told me I had antibodies in the first test,” he says.

This successfully meant not solely did Sai miss the second tournament, his roommate Kidambi Srikanth was grounded too.

Left solely to speculate on what would possibly’ve occurred, Sai says, “most certainly I acquired contaminated when the remainder of them – (Parupalli) Kashyap, Saina (Nehwal), (HS) Prannoy did, at Guru’s (Saidutt) wedding ceremony.

“Beyond that I had taken care of myself. But I never tested positive, so it might’ve been very mild, though enough for antibodies. It’s just sad that they didn’t allow me to play like they did Saina.”

It’s the worst kind of stop-start starting of the Olympic yr, however Sai is clutching onto the positives. “On the morning of the first tournament in Thailand, there was chaos after Saina, Prannoy were pulled out, PV Sindhu and I played our matches later without a coach or physio and in a lot of uncertainty, so that ended up bad and I lost. I had prepared well for the second tournament, but then this happened,” he says.

Yet, the 28-year-old is relieved that the worst is likely to be behind him – and he didn’t even know when he was in its midst.

“Right now I’m thinking I was positive at some point and I’m carrying the antibodies. Because there’s always a tension when travelling. It can throw up a positive anytime. Athletes are really scared, and we are supposed to travel in March for tournaments,” he says, pointing to one thing that’s possible to pop up at any occasion heading into the Olympics – the largest one.

While there have been talks concerning the elite shuttlers receiving a vaccine forward of their Europe sojourn (Swiss Open begins on March 3, and is an Olympic qualification occasion. The All England is on March 17, whereas the German Open cancelled on Thursday), Sai reckons there may not be sufficient time for the 2 doses.

“They’re trying yes, but we won’t get it before leaving because there’s only 2.5 weeks left and we need to be available in India. Even after the second dose we can’t just travel immediately because they’ll have to check for reactions. The Malaysian Open looks postponed, so maybe after we return from the All England,” Sai reckons.

“There’s never been a more bizarre experience in my playing life,” he concludes, bemused that confusion was his clearest identifiable emotion at that time.