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.7, women's badminton player
What's the most paranoid thing you have done during this outbreak?
I don't think it's being paranoid, but what's hardest is you shouldn't keep putting your hands on your face. That is most important, to not touch your eyes and nose. We need to keep washing our hands at least for 20 seconds. It's important for everyone. I think for everyone who has travelled abroad, it's important to stay in self isolation for 14 days just to be safe.
Are you worried about what could happen?
I wouldn't call it paranoia. This is a serious illness and the world is afraid of it. You should be very careful, sanitise your hands and wear masks. I don't fear what might happen (tournaments getting cancelled) because of the virus. I'm more worried about the virus itself.
How has the pandemic affected your training?
I've never had to deal with a situation like this before. This is the only time, that the whole world seems to have shut down. Everyone is facing a situation where they have to stay at home and take care of themselves. I've come back from England so I'm following the 14 days of self isolation. We are at home and we can't go anywhere because it's very risky at the moment. So I've been doing exercise at home and maintaining my fitness.
For sure, I can't practice and play badminton. I can't go out and play. I'm definitely missing badminton but it's more important to stay safe. At the end of the day you can't risk your life. I could watch any of my old matches on tape. It could be a winning match or losing match because I will know my mistakes more.
What are you doing in your free time?
I'm watching a lot of Netflix and generally chilling. There are a lot of movies and series that I've been watching, which I haven't had time to complete. I can't play with my nephew either. Since I've come back from England, I've had to stay in self isolation. That means I can't be around him either. I can just talk to him on video calls.
Are you being disciplined with your diet?
Yes, I've been eating only home food since I got back. My mum cooks really well. I'm eating a lot of veggies and mostly a lot of vegetarian food. Of course there are times when I cheat and eat a few chocolates but it should be fine for me.
Is there any advantage to the current situation?
The one advantage is you stay at home and relax, but at some point of time you kind of start to miss badminton.
How do you maintain your fitness routine at the moment?
I keep doing my regular exercises. My dad also helps me. In one way, I'm lucky (that my dad's a former player). My dad tells me a few exercises and I do them. That keeps me active throughout the isolation. Even though there's no badminton, I'm doing some sort of exercise in the morning and evening. I'm happy with what I'm doing.