Badminton and brotherly love: how the Verma siblings are sticking together

Sourabh Verma also explained how the trainees from the Gopichand Academy go through their fitness drills together.

While most athletes across the globe have come up with innovative ways to motivate themselves in self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian badminton players Sourabh and Sameer Verma can always count on each other for company - and for competition.

“It’s very helpful mentally. It’s difficult to push yourself in such a situation but we motivate each other,” Sourabh Verma told the Indian Express.

“Sometimes, I feel worn out but watching Sameer putting in hard work motivates me. We also discuss the technicalities and strategies with each other.

“So, having him for the company is a good thing especially in this period,” he pointed out.

India's Sourabh Verma in action during the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships 2019
India's Sourabh Verma in action during the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships 2019India's Sourabh Verma in action during the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships 2019

Verma brothers back at home

The Verma siblings are back in their hometown in Dhar after the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad, where they train, shut down last month amid the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However, despite being away from the academy, Sourabh Verma explained how the trainees still go through their fitness drills together.

“Trainer Dinaz Vervatwala connects with around 90 trainees every alternate day via video call for the fitness sessions. Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand) also monitors the sessions. Besides, we also get a schedule from the academy every day,” the 27-year-old said.

Looking ahead to the Tokyo Games next year, Sourabh Verma knows that only consistent performances by him and brother Sameer can help them qualify with the Badminton World Federation (BWF) freezing the rankings last month.

“Now, everybody has a chance (to improve their rankings) and those who were leading the chart (in rankings) need to maintain their positions,” he said.

Sourabh and Sameer Verma are currently ranked 30th and 31st respectively, and they need consistent performances to feature in Tokyo since just two Indian shuttlers from the top 16 will qualify for the Games.

House party for Ashwini Ponnappa

Like the Verma siblings, Indian badminton star Ashwini Ponnappa is also chasing a qualification spot In Tokyo by utilizing her time at home wisely.

“It’s all about making the most of the time you have at home. Luckily in this day and age, there are a lot of exercises you can do at home,” Ashwini Ponnappa said.

“It’s harder when you’re at home and you have more time to be disciplined. I do try to wake up early and try and do some breathing exercises, stretches and strength training... It’s all about doing things that can be done at home,” she insisted.

The two-time Olympian also took to Twitter last weekend to provide a glimpse of her inventive training methods.

Ashwini Ponnappa will be teaming up with partner N Sikki Reddy in her bid to qualify for the Tokyo Games and make a third appearance at the Olympics once the qualification tournaments resume.

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