NEW DELHI: The sporting calendar was scrapped across the world in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and many athletes subsequently used the break to work on their fitness and game.
With no matches and no practice, two-time Olympian and 2010 (women’s doubles) and 2018 (mixed doubles) Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ashwini Ponnappa is keeping herself busy with strength and conditioning exercises at home.
In an interview with the TimesofIndia.com, Ashwini talks about the resumption and changes in the game once things get back to normal and what keeps her going.
Your views on Badminton World Federation‘s plans for resumption of the tour in August, with 22 tournaments stuffed into five months.
The number of tournaments can be managed as it would be picking and choosing which ones to play and which ones not too. As for the resumption of tournaments starting in August, I personally feel it is still too early to decide on starting tournaments in August. There are so many countries still in lockdown, which means players can’t train. The countries where things have eased up, players will definitely have an advantage. Plus there is no guarantee that international travel would open by then, even if it does, there aren’t any norms out on what it would be like for people entering from overseas. If they have a 14 day quarantine period then it would be tough. Right now there is no guarantee that tournaments can resume for sure on the said dates as things are yet to ease up worldwide.
How much do you think will live sports change once they eventually resume?
I’m sure we’ll have loads of restrictions and precautions taken in order to keep players, officials and everyone else involved in sports safe. Whatever it is, we would have to follow it and go with the norms. For example, if playing a match without spectators is a rule then we would have to abide by it.
Do you think that sports should resume without fans in the stands?
Whatever it takes for sports to resume I feel would be fine. Given the situation, players and fans would have to be alright with going that way as long as there is sports happening and fans can watch it from home, it’s better than not having sports at all.
How are you coping during these tough times without practice and access to a gym?
I have managed to find a way. With things slowly easing up in Bangalore it has become a little easier to get into a routine.
What exercises are you doing at home to stay fit?
I’ve got a couple of exercises I’m following. Core work, arm exercises and legs exercises. I’ve been doing my strength and conditioning at home. A lot of exercises can be done at home without equipment like – lunges, single leg deadlifts, tricep dips, push ups etc.
You have had a long and successful career. What do you think has been the reason for your success and what keeps you going?
Reasons would be things falling into place at the right place and the right time. Good on court understanding, good coaches, support and funding from the government of India for tournaments, not having to worry about the monetary side thanks to my job with ONGC which made focusing fully and completely on the game possible. What keeps me going is the hunger and drive that I have to achieve what I believe I can achieve.
You were part of the Indian team which won the gold medal in the mixed team event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Any abiding memories of that?
I loved every single bit of the experience. One of the most fun team events I’ve played. Loved the positivity and belief the team had. Loved how all the players, coaches, support staff, everyone involved worked together and were there for each other during the team event and how everyone wanted to win. It was a great team to be a part of.
Your father played hockey for India. What made you choose badminton?
I didn’t choose badminton, I was put into the sport by my parents. I don’t think there was ever a question of them putting me into hockey, as somehow, since I was little, badminton seemed to have been the sport for me. Having a court near the place where my dad worked did make it easy for my parents to take me for practice and back as both of them worked, and it’s (been) badminton ever since.