At the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru, Lakshya Sen and Ashwini Ponnappa were among the 20-odd Indian badminton players who hit the courts after an almost three-month-long break.
Some of the nation’s top shuttlers resumed their on-court training a few weeks back after the government relaxed lockdown norms to allow international athletes to get back to their programme that was halted due to the escalation of COVID-19 outbreak.
Though the shuttlers had done well to keep themselves fit during the lockdown, the head coach and director at the academy, U Vimal Kumar, believed that it would take another month or so for them to be back to where they were before the pandemic.
“They are ok, but they need to get back into shape. Physically they are alright but need to undergo a lot of skill sessions on the court,” Vimal Kumar told the Olympic Channel.
“Since we can't avail the gym yet, they are doing some physical training on the court as well. I think they will take a little more time, say about a month to month-and-a-half to get back to their peak performance.”
While access to badminton courts have been granted by the government, the athletes still can’t avail other select facilities. But the former national champion, Vimal Kumar, hoped to see a revision in the norms in the coming weeks.
“I hope we get the approvals for the gym sessions soon. That's very important. Yes, they are doing various workouts, but the weight training programme is missing,” he informed.
“Let's see if the authorities come up with some modifications to the rules in the coming weeks. But at least this an opportunity and the shuttlers are happy to be happy.”
Awaiting clarity on the season ahead
This week also saw BWF pushing the resumption of the season to August 25, beginning with the China Masters Super 100 event at Sanya.
While Vimal Kumar welcomed the international body’s move, he was still hesitant to chart out a plan for his wards especially with many external factors affecting the season this year.
“I think what the BWF has done is they have tried to give some positivity to the overall environment in the badminton circuit. It’s a good thing,” said the Dhronacharya awardee coach.
“But we don't know how many will be keen on travelling to China given restrictions in place. Right now, all we can do is wait and watch. There are a lot of things that aren't in our hands.
“But I am sure if everything falls in place, there will be players who will want to compete at these events. But at least, there's hope,” opined Vimal Kumar, who helped Saina Nehwal to the world number one ranking in 2015.
The 57-year-old now coaches Lakshya Sen, one of India’s promising talents in badminton, among others.