Coping with Corona: Bhavani Devi catches up with Superstar's Darbar, mom's sambar rice

CA Bhavani Devi is the first Indian to win a gold at the Commonwealth Championships. CA Bhavani Devi

In these times of social distancing, sport is a casualty. Tournaments stand cancelled, seasons suspended and sport worldwide is almost at a virtual standstill. ESPN will be bringing you serialized accounts of Indian athletes, cooped up in homes or training camps, on what their lives are like now, with calendars scrambled, competitions on hold and plenty of time to kill.

Bhavani Devi



What's the most paranoid thing you have done during this lockdown?

I'm not too paranoid about anything. I just did the basic precautions like wearing masks when I travelled (from Italy to Belgium and finally to India). Over here, I'm just washing my hands and I'm maintaining all the social distancing procedures. I'm also doing my workouts from home.

What are your biggest fears about the situation?

More than the virus, it is the uncertainty that's troubling me. The biggest fear in the sport is we don't know what will happen about the competitions, training and about the travel for the tournaments.

Has the coronavirus pandemic affected your training?

It definitely has affected our training. I was training in Italy when the outbreak hit the country. My training base in Italy was locked down first and then I had to travel to Belgium. But the camp in Belgium was cancelled as well, so I came back to Chennai. Once again, all the training centres are closed. But I understand the situation, and it's more important to be safe from this virus. So my coach and my team at GoSports foundation have helped me modify the training plan according to the things that I have access to currently.That will help me maintain my form and get back to where I left things.

What do you miss about your regular training?

I miss the fencing lessons with my coach, my partners, and of course the set up. They have been locked since the last few weeks, but we keep in touch via WhatsApp and luckily everyone is safe. It's easier for them because our training base was in Livorno [Italy] where there aren't too many cases. The most cases and problems are in the north of Italy.

What are you doing in your free time?

I'm watching a lot of my matches, but the 2019 World Championship where I reached the pre-quarterfinals against (eventual bronze medalist) Bianca Pascu will be my favourite. Over the last few months, I've had to do lots of travel and training, so I'm using this period to get as much rest and recovery as possible. I'm doing yoga, I'm working on my rehabilitation exercises at home and trying to get some good sleep .

Is there any advantage of being in this situation?

The one advantage I can think of is that I get to stay with my family and especially my mother. I get to spend more time with them in person which I otherwise don't get to. I get to eat my mother's food. I'm eating idli, sambar rice and rasam rice, which I usually miss when I am out of the country. I'm also getting to watch a lot of movies which isn't something I'd normally do. I'm watching Darbar, Kaithi and I've just seen this Telugu movie Sarileru Neekevvaru.

What's your fitness and training routine like at this time?

I usually don't have many issues with my diet. I'm not increasing my cheat days because I'm not a fan of sweets anyway. In this time, my home workouts are given by my coach Nicola from Italy. And when I get to go to the gym, I will work with my trainer. At the moment, I'm doing mostly bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats and push ups. I'm also doing some fencing footworks.

If you could trade places with any other athlete right now, who would it be?

At this time, I'd like to trade places with Serena Williams. I love her confidence and want to know how she maintains her success in the sport. I'd like to experience those things.