HT Brunch Cover Story: Our silver lining with an eye on gold
Arguably, some of the people most disappointed last year with the restrictions imposed for the pandemic were the athletes qualified to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
A chance to win a medal at the Olympics comes only once every four years, and for badminton player PV Sindhu, who at the Rio 2016 Olympics became the first Indian woman to win a medal in the Olympics. silver, the loss of the chance to go for gold in Tokyo was almost too disappointing to bear.
Granted, the Tokyo Olympics will now begin in July, but pandemics are unpredictable and athletes who participate will always feel a certain amount of stress and uncertainty.
Sindhu, however, refused to let anything weaken his morale. Not only has she managed to stay in shape, but she is also the only Indian badminton player to be selected for Tokyo 2021.
“The most important thing is to be thankful that we are safe and healthy,” said the 25-year-old from Hyderabad. “The lockdown last year was a very unusual situation for me. I have never been home for this long. But even though it was kind of a nice break, I continued to train at home, following the schedule my trainer sent me, and even learned new techniques in my sport.
Sindhu is thrilled to have the opportunity to learn how to play better. “Usually we go to tournaments, then we come back and correct the mistakes, then go back to tournaments,” she explains. “It doesn’t give us a lot of time to learn new techniques or skills. I made good use of the time I spent in confinement and I am very happy with it. “
The new normal
Sindhu did not spend all of 2020 at home: once the confinement was lifted, she was back on court. But things had changed dramatically.
“It was great to start playing on the pitch again, but we had to adapt to playing without spectators, which was a bit strange at first,” she recalls. “And then we had to stay in bio-bubbles, which meant we would just go to the stadium, play and go back to our hotel, without permission to go outside. These restrictions were depressing at times, but we realized that they were for our own good and that staying safe was the most important thing to do. ”
At the start of this year, with the pandemic looking set to end, Sindhu was busy with tournaments and even reached the Swiss Open final and the All England Open semi-final in March. But then the harsher, deadlier second wave of the pandemic began, forcing another lockdown amid news of deaths and health crises across the country.
“With bad news coming from everywhere, every time someone called, our first thought would be to ask ourselves if it was bad news again,” Sindhu explains. “Fear has gripped us all. People were losing their jobs, wages were reduced and it was not easy to stay unscathed. ”
One of the worst things Sindhu has faced was the loss of World Badminton Federation (BWF) referee Vemuri Sudhakar due to Covid-19.
Knowing him personally from childhood, Sindhu was heartbroken. “He was a very well known and respected umpire,” she said. “My father knew him very well, so when we found out he had the Covid we were worried and kept in regular contact with him. After about a week, when my dad spoke to him, he sounded much better and his condition was stable, which was a great relief to us. But two days later, we were shocked to learn that he was no more. He didn’t deserve to leave so early.
The only thing that got Sindhu through the horror of the second wave of the pandemic was his focus on preparing for the Olympics.
“It was not easy to stay calm and positive, but one thing we all had to understand is that this situation is not just happening in India but all over the world and so we are all in the same boat” , Sindhu said. “The only thing you can do is stay positive, be brave, fight the virus and not give in to fear. Fortunately, we have the vaccines now and it is important that everyone gets vaccinated. ”
As a sportswoman, Sindhu is trained to concentrate and it is this concentration that keeps her through difficult times. “In such an uncertain situation where the dynamics change every minute, the best thing to do is get busy. It’s not that everyone is dying. Many people survive and will survive. You have to condition yourself to believe it. At some point, things will improve, but no one can say exactly when. So follow all the safety protocols and focus on improving your immunity, ”said winner Arjuna.
From Brunch HT, June 27, 2021
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