Like many sportspersons around the world, badminton player Ashwini Ponnappa is finding her way through uncertain times.
The Tokyo Olympics has been postponed to 2021, there is little clarity over the new Olympic qualification period, and no one even knows when international sport will resume.
All that Ashwini — confined to her home here on account of the coronavirus-inflicted lockdown — can do is to stay fit and ready when the time comes to return to the court.
“This is the most important period for us. We have to stay motivated to train and do our exercises. There are days when you don’t feel like doing anything. You don’t even know what day of the week it is. In this situation, self-motivation is important,” Ashwini, a Red Bull athlete, said.
It helps that national coach Pullela Gopi Chand, Ashwini and other India international shuttlers are part of a WhatsApp group. “Gopi sir motivates us through our group. He gives us exercises, and he conducts group classes,” Ashwini, who partners Sikki Reddy in women’s doubles, said.
While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has set 29 June 2021 as a general Olympic qualification period deadline, it is up to the individual sports federations like the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to take their own final decision.
“It is confusing. It would be nice to know the qualification criteria. That being said, clarity cannot emerge until the coronavirus outbreak subsides and things return to normal. Until then, you have to train and be ready to get back on court,” Ashwini said.
“Ideally, the BWF should extend the qualification period by how many ever months have been lost. In fact, the more time given the better. But if the cut-off is set at the 2020 All England Open (which concluded last month), that will be sad,” Ashwini said.