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.
B Sai Praneeth
Following the outbreak, what's the most paranoid thing you've done to keep yourself safe?
I don't think I've done anything paranoid but I have done a few things which I have never done before in my life, like cooking regularly and being inside the house all the time.
In terms of badminton, what's your biggest fear in a situation like this?
The whole world is facing this situation and I'm not the only one. So there is no fear as such. This will take some time and till the time it does, everyone has to stay home to be safe. Eventually, all of us will be back on court. We just have to wait and be patient.
How has your training been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
There's no training as such because everything is closed for now and badminton is a sport where you need a partner to train with.
If you could watch a match from the past on video while you're stuck at home, which one would it be?
There are so many matches that I can watch, as it will help me analyse my strengths and weaknesses, which I can then work on. If I have to pick just two though, I'll pick the World Championships quarterfinal against Jonatan Christie and the Singapore Open final (vs. Kidambi Srikanth) in 2017.
Have you taken up any new hobbies or pastimes?
I have been watching a lot of TV and I am also trying my hand at some cooking, which I don't get to do a lot of otherwise. I am just helping my wife with whatever I can.
So which TV show are you currently watching?
Nothing specific. It depends on my mood, I watch any film that's on the TV that I like. If I don't like anything on the TV, then I watch Netflix or Amazon Prime.
How are you being disciplined about your diet - are the number of cheat days increasing?
The cheat days are not increasing but I'm getting to have a lot more home food than I generally do, which is good.
Is there any advantage of being in a situation like this?
Nothing much but one big advantage is that I'm getting to spend all my time with my wife, which I can not do once I start training. That is the thing that I'm enjoying the most.
If you could swap lives with any sportsperson for a day who would it be and why?
It would be MS Dhoni. He's the man who changed everything in Indian cricket and people have huge respect for him. He has won so many big tournaments and he's a special person, not many can be like him.