The COVID-19 pandemic has “robbed” athletes of the freedom to train at their convenience before the most important Olympic Games, says the shuttle of the ace from India, Kidambi Shrikant.
Going through multiple COVID tests and living in a bio-bubble has become the new norm for international athletes, and Srikanth has experienced it all in the last few months.
“Things are not as smooth as before, this bio bubble and everything is a little complicated to deal with and then, when false positives happen, it gets even more complicated,” Shrikant told PTI in an interview.
“You can’t complain if you get a positive result, because you don’t know if it’s actually a false positive, so things are very difficult now.”
Srikanth, a former number one in the world, was left with a bloody nose after undergoing numerous COVID tests before the YONEX Thailand Open earlier this year.
He then had to retire from the Toyota Thailand Open and remain locked in his hotel room in Bangkok for a week after his roommate and teammate B Sai Praneeth tested positive for COVID-19, which later turned out to be incorrect.
“I feel like we’ve lost the freedom to train on time. It’s been robbed. In the days before COVID, I could go to the gym whenever I wanted, but now I have to go when I have time. You can’t prepare the way you want. we’ve done it before, “he said.
“I couldn’t play more matches in Thailand. I had to play the World Cup finals right away without practice. I couldn’t train all over England because some players were positive. It didn’t work out that way.
“But you can’t think too much about these things because you can only do what you have in your hand. You just have to adjust and live with it for at least the next 5-6 months.”
He hopes to provide an Olympic port with good excursions in the last three qualifiers.
One area that the Indian thinks the World Badminton Federation (BWF) can look into is food.
“Food is something the BWF needs to consider. I understand that it’s hard to give everyone what they want, but they can take a little more care, it can be a little bigger menu to choose from.” he said.
“The first 3-4 days all over England, when we weren’t allowed to go out, there weren’t too many options, there weren’t rice options.”
The 28-year-old Indian is already focused only on his performance in the last three Olympic qualifiers, starting with the Indian Open, which is to be held behind closed doors in the national capital from May 11 to 16.
“Initially there were a lot of events, now only three Olympic qualifiers and I just hope these three tournaments happen. The lock helped me work on myself and now I feel much better physically,” said Shrikant, a quarterfinalist at the Rio Games in 2016
“I played three close matches in the finals of the world tour. I think a win against a top player will probably give me that confidence. So I have three more tournaments to prove myself.”
Srikanth is ranked 20th in the Race to Tokyo rankings and ranks 14th in the rankings worldwide.
Finalist of the 2019 India Open, Srikanth is “no longer sure about the ranking rules”.
“For me, it’s to do well in the three events. If I play in the three events, I’ll be at the Olympics. That’s not a big request,” he said.
“I probably have to play a semifinal or a few quarterfinals. I actually feel really good about my physical condition right now, so it’s going to go there and give it my all.”
Srikanth dominated the chain in 2017, winning four titles with his attacking play.
But he seems to have lost some of his aggressive play of late.
“I was just injured and with that comes a limitation, but now I feel much better,” he signed.