The novel coronavirus has brought life to a standstill across the world. The sporting world too, with tournaments cancelled, seasons suspended and athletes bound by the same rules of isolation as the rest of us. ESPN talks to Indian athletes, cooped up in homes or training camps, on their changed routines, with calendars scrambled, competitions on hold and plenty of time on hand.
World No. 61, men's badminton player
How has your training been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
From a badminton point of view, training has pretty much stopped as all the training facilities are shut here. I'm doing most of my workouts at home. I have bought an exercise bike to do some cardio and some chest work, which I can manage from home as even gyms are shut.
What do you miss the most about training?
I have been playing for so many years that I have a fixed, strenuous routine I follow everyday and I have a very active lifestyle. So obviously, when that sort of shuts down, you are left wondering what to do in all the free time. I think we've been partially trained for it as it's similar when you have a major injury but there's suddenly a lot of free time now. At least for me, I do not like being idle so I use that time drawing or painting, which is something that I really enjoy.
If you could watch a match from the past on video while you're stuck at home, which one would it be?
I would my semifinal match from the 2015 Korea Open. It is a memorable match for me as that was the first time I made a Superseries final. So that match has a lot of special memories for me.
Have you taken up any new hobbies or pastimes?
Other than painting and sketching, I have been watching a lot of TV series. In the past, I've been very lazy when it comes to learning to cook but it is one skill that I'm definitely looking to pick up now.
So which TV show are you currently watching?
One of my favourite TV shows is The Office (The US version), so I watch a lot of reruns of it. Other than that, I watched a Netflix film called Super Deluxe, which was really nice.
How are you being disciplined about your diet - are the number of cheat days increasing?
Not really as at this point it is just home-cooked food that I'm mostly having. So It's a fairly healthy diet that I'm continuing to follow.
Is there any advantage of being in a situation like this?
Absolutely not. You have to just look at the magnitude of this to realise its seriousness. I think everything else becomes secondary at this point, including badminton. The most important thing is to be responsible citizens and do what we are being advised to do like staying indoors and practicing social distancing. So there's definitely no advantage that I see. I'm just hoping that people act responsibly and the situation does not worsen too much.
In terms of badminton, what's your biggest fear in a situation like this?
It's hard to look at badminton in isolation because this is a far bigger situation. At this point, the focus should be on the larger picture and not just badminton. The BWF has cancelled all tournaments, which was the right decision.
If you could swap lives with any sportsperson for a day who would it be and why?
I think I would pick someone who I really admire and that would be Rafael Nadal. I think his work ethic is tremendous. Being in his place for a day would be quite something.
Following the outbreak, what's the most paranoid thing you've done to keep yourself safe?
In terms of paranoia, I think that you don't want to be a carrier especially when you've traveled abroad. I think you feel responsible and in terms of that, it is hard to call anything that you do in that situation paranoid. But there was this instance where I had to take a cab and I kept sanitizing myself frequently through that ride and also placed a towel on the seat.