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. 10, men's doubles badminton player
How has your training been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Everything is shut here in Mumbai, including all training centres, so all you can do is train at home. It has been affected a lot, all I can do is ab workouts.
What do you miss the most about training?
Just going out of the house as I'm not used to staying indoors. So that has to be the most difficult part.
If you could watch a match from the past on video while you're stuck at home, which one would it be?
I would want to see the finals of the Thailand Open in 2019. That's the match that I would definitely not mind watching again.
Have you taken up any new hobbies or pastimes?
I haven't discovered anything new but I had never chopped vegetables before and I'm doing it now. I'm also cleaning the house, including mopping the floor, and trying to keep myself as busy as possible instead of just sitting and waiting for this period to get over.
So which TV series are you currently watching?
I watched Contagion on Amazon Prime. It is eerily similar to the situation we are facing right now. So that was the last movie I watched.
How are you being disciplined about your diet -- are the number of cheat days increasing?
Not really. As there is a lockdown here, there is no choice but to have whatever is cooked at home. I'm just eating what is available at home.
Is there any advantage of being in a situation like this?
One advantage is that there's a lot less pollution in the environment. When I wake up in the morning, I can hear the birds chirping. Usually, you can never hear that even in early mornings because there's enough noise pollution. The other big advantage is getting to spend a lot of time with my family.
In terms of badminton, what's your biggest fear in a situation like this?
Not being able to play tournaments as everything is cancelled. I'm not even able to step on the court, which is very challenging. I could never imagine something like this other than when you're injured. So to not be able to play despite being injury-free is a big fear.
If you could swap lives with any sportsperson for a day who would it be and why?
Probably Lionel Messi. Because his fan following is crazy and he's one of my most favourite athletes and definitely my favourite footballer. I would want to see how his life is for a day.
Following the outbreak, what's the most paranoid thing you've done to keep yourself safe?
Just what everyone else is doing, I'm guessing. I'm really not the kind of person who would stay in one place for 24 hours without any sunlight. It feels like I'm in a jail sometimes. I have been watching TV shows all day, which I would never do otherwise. I don't really want to do it but there is no choice.