Accept and adapt: Table tennis player Madhurika Patkar’s mantra

Madhurika Patkar conceded that two months of no practice was bound to impact players. But she is not unduly worried about getting back to form.

Madhurika Patkar, the The 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, is not fussing around in the so-called new normal phase the world is enduring. (File Photo)   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

Accept and adapt are what Indian table tennis player Madhurika Patkar is living by these days, much like many sportspersons dealing with curbs brought on by the coronavirus pandemic

The 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist is not fussing around in the so-called new normal phase the world is enduring due to COVID-19.

“It (the new normal) will be perceived differently by different people. We have to live day by day and see what goes on. Before the lockdown, my schedule included going to the gym and for practice in the morning. Or it was a visit to the stadium for physical fitness followed by training.

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“Then, we’d come back to rest before heading out for the evening fitness and training sessions. Besides the normal routine, we would often travel for tournaments whenever required,” said Patkar.

“Now, we wake up and have a fitness session with the trainer over a Zoom call. Then, I call up the coach for shadow practice. That is followed by cooking and completing other household chores. So, this is my new normal routine. It’s all about accepting and adapting,” she said.

-NEED SOME TIME TO GET BACK TO THE SAME LEVEL-

The 33-year-old conceded that two months of no practice was bound to impact players. But she is not unduly worried about getting back to form.

“When you haven’t touched the ball and racket for so long, it will make a difference. Having said that, I feel it won’t take us more than a week or two to get back to our game primarily because we continued to work on our physical fitness and shadow practice.

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“TT has evolved in such a way that we require a high level of physical strength and fitness. We need power in the core and legs,” said Patkar.

On the challenge of taking care of mental health in these stressful times, and whether players will be able to focus solely on practice and not worry about contracting the virus, she responded: “It will be tough (to focus solely on the game) but we will manage. We (the players) undergo mental health training regularly. Off the table, we will think of all the measures. But once we are at the table, we forget everything and enter the zone.”

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The Mumbai-born paddler added that no tournaments shortly will allow them to get back to the groove while getting accustomed to implementing the preventive measures simultaneously.

-GRATEFUL TO BE PLAYING THE GAME-

Patkar either trains at Shailaja Gohad’s academy in Thane, which is a 15-minute drive from her home, or at the nearby Mulund Gymkhana. Madhurika expressed her eagerness to get back to the table and remind herself of the importance of the sport in her life.

“With the first step (into the academy), I will soak in the feel and the atmosphere. When you miss something, you realise its importance even more. I’ll be grateful that this is my life and that I am fortunate enough to get back,” she said