CHENNAI: For Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, the forced break due to the coronavirus pandemic is a blessing in disguise. India’s doubles specialist in badminton has been confined in Amalapuram, a town in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
Having last played in January, Satwik’s focus has been on self-care — eat healthy, sleep regular hours and maintain daily activities. After a breakthrough 2019, where he played a total of 51 matches apart from featuring in the Premier Badminton League, the teenager feels it’s good to slow things down and get a fresh perspective.
As far as fitness goes, shuttlers of the Gopichand Academy are given workouts through video conferencing on alternate days. A total of 90 athletes are handed this schedule by trainer Dinaz Vervatwala. It’s been two weeks since this routine began. Apart from the workouts, Satwik also does wall practising at home.
“I do workouts twice a day. I also play cricket, carrom and PUBG (video game),” says the 19-year-old. “The workouts given by Dinaz are effective. On alternate days, we do a video call through Zoom from 4-5 pm and everybody practises together. The workouts are of good intensity. I feel we are becoming physically stronger.”
Despite a successful year with his doubles partner Chirag Shetty — the duo won the Thailand Open (Super 500) and reached the French Open (Super 750) final — they faced injury concerns. After missing out on the World Championships last year, Satwik pulled out of the Badminton Asia Championships in February after twisting his ankle. It is because of these reasons that he is putting emphasises on fitness during the lockdown.
Being on and off the court due to injuries also meant he was anxious about gaining weight. It was during his recovery time in August-September that he changed his diet and started consuming rotis and dosas for dinner.
“I’m conscious that I will get fat now. But I am controlling my consumption. I am avoiding rice at night,” said Satwik. “My physiotherapist has advised something light for dinner. I feel I am in better shape than before. At the same time, I’m getting good food and proper sleep. When we are in the academy, there will be days when you sleep late. Sometimes, we have cheat days and order briyani. Here, it’s homemade and healthy.”
For a shuttler who “will forget badminton if I get two-three days of a break”, Satwik is happy with the postponement of the Olympics. Apart from getting an additional amount of time to prepare, he believes this will also help the federation find a new doubles coach after Indonesian Flandy Limpele abruptly announced resignation in the first week of March. The men’s doubles pair are ranked 10 currently and are assured of an Olympic berth.
“We will get more time to practise with a (new ) coach. We didn’t know how we would have trained in a short period had the Olympics happened this year. We were a bit confused. If we get a new coach, it will be better for our preparation. A new coach will come up with new strategies and we will learn many things,” said Satwik, who is pursuing B Com (first year) from Andhra University through distance education.