The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 19-03-2023 | 12:45 pm
There are no easy answers to what the ideal schedule spacing between badminton’s important tournaments, ought to be. But player burnout is real.When Chinese Olympic champion Chen Yufei posted candidly on Weibo about her “burnt out”, and later spoke of it to the media after her first-round win at All England, she was voicing concerns that will echo many other players. While ACL and ankle are the most dreaded words in the shuttle world, it is the debilitating draining of the mind of all joy of playing the sport, that is oftener an unspoken sentiment of the elite athletes in this sport.A few lines stood out in Yufei’s admission on how the pressure of being an Olympic champion can take a toll. “Because of responsibility and because my name is Chen Yu Fei, I took my tired body to the courts and kept playing. However, I didn’t enjoy any of my matches nor did I look forward to them.”This manifested in multiple disorders. “It all came from a busy 2021 – first was the Olympics, followed by the National Games and the Sudirman Cup, then the Uber Cup,” she was quoted as saying by the BWF. “My body was totally burnt out, and my mental state was the same.Then came all the disorders in my body. I could not sleep well or eat well, and my mind was heavy and I had little energy.”The post-Olympics rigmarole of expectations from performance – to be the best at every tournament for the next four years to live up to the tag, can be cruelly exacting, one assumes. When Yufei confessed to how she had really felt post the gold for the whole of last season, being crowned the champion didn’t sound like too much fun. That a Chinese athlete had taken to social media to speak of this was refreshingly bold.A holiday in Bangkok had helped her recharge her batteries and start to enjoy the sport once more and she’s in the finals of All England. “It’s not about whether posting on social media helps or not. I see it as a way of expressing my emotions and thoughts. It does not really do anything about my performance. The fans were all very positive and cheering for me and encouraging me,” went the happy ending. However, the larger issue of the punishing schedules in this sport persists.Reduction in number of tournaments might not find the same fans sound very enthusiastic, so the federation has a tightrope to walk. But some of the scheduling remains confounding – like this year’s start of the tournaments, where a Super 1000 in Malaysia, was followed by India, and then back to Indonesia the following week in what was fairly disorienting timezone-hopping for players. For fans, the bothers tend to be simpler armchair concerns like finding streaming sites, and the odd late-night matches and surfing channels. But cluster tournaments in three back-to-back weeks – though planned to facilitate travel – can hamper the best of performances, like Viktor Axelsen’s loss in Delhi playing on a second straight Sunday.Solutions are hard to come by, for a sport that enjoys modest sponsorships compared to tennis and golf. Having those many tournaments actually makes sense, and spacing them out will be deeply difficult on players’ own pockets. On their own, the bunch of tournaments on the calendar cater to every possible format – an annual World Championship featuring the best, the team events in Sudirman and Thomas Uber Cup, the continental Games and championships, four Super 1000s and a bunch of Super 750, 500, 300 & 100s – the last ones for upcoming players.However at the very top of the pyramid, the elite players find themselves with no respite, and their energies get spread too thin if they are obligated to turn up at all the Nationals, as well as shoulder burdens in team events, and then also pursue their individual ambitions on the Tour. Tennis got that right with the four Slams, but badminton is uniquely muddled, given all players turn up (or are expected to) for all of the Super 750+ events. Yufei’s case was extraordinary, owing to the pandemic time abnormal schedule. But surely, a gold medal, coming out of lockdown, ought not to have taken such a toll on her, that she wasn’t even enjoying playing the sport.Social media chatter about big players’ forms can be in the range of unkind to downright insulting. Declaring someone ‘finished’ is very common and can mess with player minds especially coming out of surgeries after injuries. When the Olympic medallist tag puts a target mark on your back, and fan folk don’t quite comprehend what ‘peaking towards a big event’ means, then players can put themselves under tremendous pressure causing burn-outs. Headlines of losses can then become dreaded words.With Olympic qualification starting in May, there will increasingly be cases of players rushing to far too many tournaments than are good for their bodies and minds, to collect ranking points. The challenge for coaches around the world will be in reining back these mad urges of players to be at every tournament, and burning themselves out in the process – though it’s not going to be an easy decision to make, needing two players to be in the Top 16.“I think that is a way of expressing, to unload my pressure. This is a new year, I would like to look ahead, take a fresh start,” she was quoted by BWF. Not everyone’s sentiment will carry the weight of an Olympic champion, but there will be those who silently suffer the same, and it will be badminton’s loss if these burnouts leave them broken in body or mind.Badminton is teeming with big names facing a plethora of challenges. PV Sindhu only took a break after the ankle acted up, and what is celebrated as her consistency at big events might well have left her utterly knackered. Carolina Marin, through her documentary, has spoken on the challenges that began after she won her gold at Rio, and has had rotten luck with injuries thereafter. Kento Momota’s career is riddled with mishaps, though the Japanese setup with wise coach Park Joo bong have maintained patience and said that they would never rush him. Nozomi Okuhara repeats at every mixed zone after a loss or win, how grateful she feels just to be able to turn up and play on the court.Speedy recovery to @CarolinaMarin. 🙏#BWFWorldTour #AllEngland2023@YonexAllEngland pic.twitter.com/QvVH9fTp7t— BWF (@bwfmedia) March 17, 2023Even at the domestic tournament levels, pressures can be exacting. Aakarshi Kashyap would break down into tears after losing the Indian senior nationals to Anupama Upadhyaya and speak of the immeasurable stress she brought upon herself because she was playing a junior and was expected to win. She literally froze at the clutch, and that sort of pressure is never good for anyone. Earlier, Saina Nehwal copped talk of being finished, when she lost to Malvika Bansod, when semi-fit. Aakarshi would even speak about how learning to handle jet lag during the frenetic international travel for tournaments, was so important and something that players might struggle with.Fans have only just begun to realise what the weight of their expectations does to players. While each player will cope in their own way, perhaps badminton needs to rethink some of its fundamental scheduling and ensure no one is losing finals out of exhaustion – physical or mental. Happy champions are better than brilliant champions on the verge of burnout.
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma may sit out a few IPL games this season with an eye towards workload management, and Suryakumar Yadav will lead the team in his absence.India has a packed international schedule, with the World Test Championship final starting at The Oval in London a week after the IPL final and the 50-over World Cup scheduled at home in October-November. Rohit, who has had a chequered injury history, will be keen to lead India on both those fronts. The Indian Express understands that he is likely to pick and choose the IPL games he will play this season, though he will continue to travel with the team and will be guiding Surya from the dugout when he is not playing.After the recent ODI series against Australia, Rohit had stressed that it was up to the players to keep themselves fit for national duty while turning out for their franchises in the IPL.“It’s all up to the franchises now. They own them now. We have given some indications to the teams, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the franchises. And more importantly, it’s up to the players. They are all adults; they have to look after their bodies. If they feel it’s getting a bit too much, they can talk about it and take a break in one or two games. I doubt if that will happen, but,” Rohit had said.
The success of Telugu films like RRR and Pushpa: The Rise has encouraged filmmakers to take their movie to different parts of India for better reach. Telugu star Nani is also gearing for the release of his upcoming film Dasara on March 30 and has launched a country-wide campaign to spread the word about this film. Not just big markets like Mumbai and Delhi but Nani has promoted Dasara in cities like Jaipur, Nagpur and Lucknow. However, the actor says not all his upcoming films will follow the same template of promotions.Nani plays the role of Dharani, a coal mine worker who is full of rage and attitude. However, things take a turn for the worse when he crosses paths with dangerous people. Although the Telugu film is dubbed in other languages, Nani strongly feels that this film will be loved by audience across the country.The actor, who is in Delhi to promote the film, tells indianexpress.com, “It depends on the content. I will not promote everything here. If I feel this is the content which – irrespective of place, language, emotion – people will connect to, I will bring it to everyone. If it is a native Telugu film then I will not bring it to North India. If those films work, then it will definitely give me a boost. I genuinely fel that the Hindi audience will love Dasara as much as the Telugu audience and that is why we are bringing it here.”However, the actor is thrilled that he finally got a chance to explore different parts of the country, which he could never do earlier. The actor says, “I got to explore so much. All those names, Nagpur, Jaipur, Lucknow… I have heard all my life because these are cities in our own country but somehow, I never thought that I would travel in all these places but now I did.However, because I am here for promotions, I am running from one place to another place and I am really not getting time to sit back and chill. So, may be after the release I will visit these places again.”Dasara is written and directed by debutant Srikanth Odela and also stars Keerthy Suresh in the lead. In Dasara, Nani, who is otherwise seen in a clean-shaven, city-boy look in his earlier films like Tuck Jagadish, Shyam Singha Roy and Ante Sundaraniki, will be seen in a messy, long-hair and beard avatar. The actor says that his look is never detrimental in him being part of a film.“I didn’t choose anything. See, scripts come to you and whatever excites you, you jump into it. Even those films I didn’t choose because of the look, I liked the story, I did them. This because I liked the story and whatever you need to do for the story, you do,” says the actor, who will be seen in Dasara on March 30.
Mumbai’s monorail service, which had turned into an infrastructure white elephant that was rapidly losing ridership, is slowly making a turnaround, registering its highest passenger usage in the last six years. In the financial year 2022-23, a total of 36.36 lakh commuters have used the service so far, which is the highest in the last six years.While the number is no way close to the 61.66 lakh passenger count that was registered in 2015-16, the total number of commuters using the service is gradually picking up. The uptick in passenger count is attributed to the improved efficiency and increased rakes that have now been deployed on the route.The monorail was envisaged as a lightweight transport system. Planners believed that its manoeuvrability and nimbleness to navigate tight turns and narrow corridors would make it ideal for urban congested corridors of Mumbai.The plan to construct a monorail line across the city was first mooted in 2005 with the appointment of a committee of bureaucrats and experts to identify routes.The idea was to create an alternative transport system which would weave through some of the most dense and congested parts of Mumbai leading to the construction of the19-km-long monorail that runs from Chembur-Wadala to Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk in Mumbai Central.While the first phase of the monorail commenced in 2014, the transportation service received a severe setback with the downturn in the economic fortunes of the Malaysian-based Scomi group, which constructed the monorail. A global downturn in the company’s fortunes coupled with its conflict with the MMRDA on financial matters, including cost escalations, saw a severe deterioration in monorail services which were frequently disrupted due to power outages and technical glitches.In November 2017, two coaches of the monorail were completely gutted and the service remained shut for a period of 10 months. Services subsequently resumed in September 2018. However, by that time commuters seemed to have lost patience for the service with many complaining that they usually had to wait for over 30 to 40 minutes for the next monorail service to arrive.The decision by the MMRDA to take over day-to-day operations, however, led to an improvement in service. Starting 2019 when the MMRDA took over the monorail, the service was running with three operational rakes. The number of functional rakes now stands at six which are used for daily operations while two rakes are kept on standby. “Commuters want to have stable services. If trains are available at constant frequency any commuter can plan their travel and we are able to provide the services at a time gap of 18 minutes now, which was earlier running at a 30-minute time gap with no proper punctuality. However, now the case is different and therefore the ridership has improved,” an official involved in the running of the monorail said.The issue of frequent breakdowns of the Malaysian-manufactured rakes has also been addressed with the MMRDA roping in local vendors for the supply of spare parts, which are also available at cheaper rates.Currently, a total of 118 trips are operated on the monorail at a time gap of 18 minutes.While the monorail ridership is increasing gradually, the MMRDA is betting big on the project and is planning to deploy an additional 10 rakes. It has given an order for 10 new rakes to an Indian company based in Hyderabad called Medha Servo Drives Ltd. The first prototype rake will be available between August and October this year.Once the prototype rake is approved then after every three months three rakes will be delivered. In the next nine months from the arrival of the first prototype rake all 10 rakes will be with the authority.The inclusion of the new rakes will improve the frequency from 18 minutes to five minutes and will nearly double the total number of services to 250 each day.The monorail authority has proposed foot over bridges (FOBs) connecting the upcoming nearby Metro and existing railway stations, which will increase the ridership of the monorail. At present the weekday ridership is 16,000 per day while on weekends the ridership is 10,000 daily. With a multi-modal integration plan the daily ridership will be over 1.5 lakh daily in the next three years, said the official. The authority has planned Metro line 4 (Wadala to Kasarvadavali) integration with the monorail station at Bhakti Park via an FOB which is around 215 metres long. Similarly, an FOB of 300 metres is planned at Jacob Circle monorail station to link with the upcoming Metro line 3 and the suburban railway station both commonly named as Mahalaxmi.The monorail’s VN Purav station is in close proximity to the Metro Line 2B (DN Nagar to Mandale) V N Purav station. Also the monorail’s Wadala Bridge station is in close proximity to the existing Vadala Road Western Railway station.The improvement in frequency is evident at most monorail stations with commuters stating that the services have improved significantly compared to the past. Commuters, however, complain that while frequency has improved monorail as a form of transportation service is not at par with the Metro, which is far more comfortable and efficient.“Although the frequency is good now the trains which operate make noise and have vibrations throughout the journey. This scares me a lot. Many times, I feel that the monorail will fall down. I don’t think pregnant women can travel in the monorail. The fares are cheap. I suggest they should increase the fare and get better rakes and use that money for the maintenance of rakes. I have travelled in countries like Thailand. Our monorail cannot be compared with other countries’ monorails,” Trupti Shah, travelling in the monorail from Chembur to Dadar East, said. Mukesh Pandeshwar (54), who stays close to Mahalaxmi and regularly travels for work to Chembur on the monorail, said that it is a convenient mode of public transport for him apart from being cheaper. However, he too pointed out that the trains vibrate a lot and a loud noise is heard throughout the journey.Another traveller Beena Srivastava, who stays in Antop Hill and travels to Chembur for work, said monorail ticketing should be made online. “One can buy tickets only at counters of the station. The services are good, however. Trips should be available at a time gap of five minutes each,” she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate a 13.71 km stretch of the Bengaluru Metro Phase II project in poll-bound Karnataka on Saturday.Inaugurating the stretch from the Whitefield (Kadugodi) Metro to Krishnarajapura (KR Puram) Metro Line of the Reach-1 extension project will be inaugurated at Whitefield (Kadugodi) Metro Station around 1 pm, Modi will also undertake a ride in the train.Modi, who is scheduled to arrive in Bengaluru Saturday morning, will first travel to Chikkaballapura for the inauguration of the Sri Madhusudan Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (SMSIMSR) at 10.45 am. The SMSIMSR, which will start functioning this year, will provide medical education and quality medical care free of cost.Built at a cost of around Rs 4,250 crores. the KR Puram-Whitefield line is aimed at reducing the travel time to 24 minutes, which otherwise would take over an hour by road. The stretch, which includes 12 stations, will also have direct walkway access to the ITPL campus at Pattandur Agrahara Metro station and is likely to benefit 3 lakh passengers.It is the part of the much-awaited 15.81 km stretch of the Bengaluru Metro from Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield on the Purple Line. Around 2.1 km stretch on this line is yet to be completed. The stretch has two reaches – R1A, an 8.67 km stretch from Baiyappanahalli to Seetharama Palya (on the K R Puram stretch), and R1B, a 7.14 km stretch from Seetharama Palya to Whitefield.Benniganahalli, K R Puram, Mahadevapura, Garudacharpalya, Hoodi Junction, Seetharama Palya, Kundalahalli, Nallurhalli, Sri Sathya Sai Hospital, Pattandur Agrahara (ITPL), Kadugodi, and Channasandra are the twelve stops on the stretch. While the KR Puram-Whitefield stretch is set to open this weekend, the Baiyappanahalli-KR Puram link is likely to open by June.Meanwhile, the Karnataka Congress has raised questions over the ruling BJP government’s move to get PM Modi to inaugurate the metro line despite unfinished work between Baiyapanahalli and K R Puram.Speaking a Bengaluru on March 21, Congress national general secretary Randeep Surjewala said, “Why is PM Modi inaugurating the Purple Metro Line without the construction of the mandatory metro link between Baiyappanahalli Metro Station and KR Puram Metro Station? Is it not correct that this missing Metro Link, which crosses over an electrified railway line, will take at least 6 months more to be completed”.The party’s move is seen as an effort taken by the BJP to showcase its infrastructure push ahead of the state polls scheduled in May.
In January this year, Martina Navratilova’s oncologist delivered her the bad news. It was far worse than she had imagined. Scans of an enlarged lymph node in her neck had revealed that she had throat and breast cancer. Having battled, and defeated, the disease 13 years back, she knew what was in store for her. Back then she was diagnosed cancer-free after rounds of radiation, this time the treatment would involve chemo and proton therapy.“It’s going to stink for a while but I’ll fight with all I have got,” she would say. This was her reflex action to every crisis.All through her tumultuously eventful life, the 66-year-old iconic tennis champion, cultural pioneer and supporter of diverse causes, has fought with all she’s got.She wasn’t even 10, when her parents decided to part ways and later her father committed suicide. In her teens she threw rocks at the Russian tanks rolling in Prague and eventually defected to the US when the Communists restricted her travel. At the peak of her career, the media would ‘out’ her, judge her for being gay and boo her even as her partners sat in stands.No childhood trauma, adolescent angst or even adult life diabolical tirade could impact her feisty serve-and-volley game. Many times she would sweep every title on offer – singles, doubles and mixed. This never-seen-before skill superiority would see her take home 59 Grand Slams trophies, the last one coming her way when she was 50. Double whammyCancer, though, is not a racket sport. It’s a different beast. Compared to last time, the ‘double whammy’, as she called her dual cancer, was tougher to deal with. According to Sunday Times, if not for the proton therapy, the doctors would have had to remove part of her tongue through robotic surgery. Nonetheless, a 7-8 mm tumour in the right breast had to be knifed out. According to Navratilova, she lost 7 kgs, sense of taste, felt drained and on days couldn’t open her mouth full to let out a yawn. The ordeal ended last week. The unbreakable superstar would ring the ceremonial bell at Manhattan’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the farewell ritual that patients dream of.Sporting icon Martina Navratilova says experience as a tennis champion helped her battle and overcome a double cancer diagnosis."You definitely have that mentality that I'm not quitting until the match point is finished."@piersmorgan | @Martina | #PMU | @TalkTV pic.twitter.com/vTSQUBEYI7— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) March 21, 2023In her interview to Piers Morgan, interrupted by sudden silence and stifled sniffs, Martina announced she was cancer-free. What was it that made her survive the storm? “You get into tennis mode . . . that’s where having been a champion athlete comes in pretty handy,” she would answer.Legendary tennis player Martina Navratilova reveals to Piers Morgan that she is cancer free, but "definitely will not be missing any check-ups.""As far as they know, I'm cancer free."@piersmorgan | @Martina | @TalkTV | #PMU pic.twitter.com/soogKlKE6l— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) March 21, 2023The making of Super Woman began in the mountains of Karkonosze, in erstwhile Czechoslovakia where Martina’s parents ran a lodge. In BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs podcast, she recounts days of skiing, running endlessly and swimming in the river. She reveals she was always a tomboy, preferred short hair and hated wearing skirts when not playing tennis. “In a skirt you can’t run fast, catch a train or tram or ride a bicycle,” she would say. A delightful anecdote from her school days answers the often-asked question: How could Martina be physically so superior to her rivals? What was the secret of her raised veins and toned muscles? When in Grade III, the teacher wanted to explain to the children how the biceps worked. She would look around the class and ask little Martina to step forward. She would proudly flaunt the tiny bulge on her arm. “I had more defined muscles than even the boys, so go figure it out,” she would quip.Tennis legend Martina Navratilova reveals that she smuggled her dog into hospital during cancer treatments."Lulu was with me through every treatment… I didn't want to ask in case they said no."@piersmorgan | @Martina | #PMU | @TalkTV pic.twitter.com/PwG4PxwgQp— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) March 21, 2023This was the time Martina’s parents parted ways and her father would drop by once or twice a year. After a point, those annual visits became infrequent and Martina’s questions to her mother increased. The loving mom would give vague answers, till the time it was no longer possible to deflect the unrelenting queries. Finally, Martina was told her father had died.It would be tennis that would change the lives of a widowed mother and her sporty girl. Martina met a coach at the club who was fond of her. In the spring, he fixed the clay courts. Martina waited for the coach to push the empty wheel-barrow to the pile of clay and fill it again. This was when the ever-smiling ultra-active girl got a wheel-barrow ride. As time passed, the coach inquired about her mother and soon the three became a family.Martina forged a bond with her stepfather, who had predicted that the teenager would win Wimbledon. When he was planning to leave her homeland for good and defect to US, she confided in him. The mother was too soft, she couldn’t have taken her decision to defect well. When she turned 21, Martina, persona non-grata in the country of her birth and not yet a US citizen, was in the Wimbledon final. The coach-turned-stepfather wanted to be by the court-side. It was not to be.The 59 Grand Slam titles winner Martina Navratilova tells Piers Morgan that she lost 15 pounds in weight during her cancer treatment."The radiation, the proton therapy, affects your throat and mouth… it started closing, I couldn't even yawn."@piersmorgan | @Martina | #PMU pic.twitter.com/03yYEmT4C7— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) March 21, 2023Deepest woundThe Czech government didn’t allow Martina’s parents to travel to England, fearing they would not return and join her in the US. With Martina blacklisted, Czechoslovakia blocked the Wimbledon final television coverage. The parents had to travel to the German border to catch the telecast of her winning the first Grand Slam, a collective dream. On her big day, Martina was stateless and all alone. Her royal box didn’t have the faces she wanted to see. She was happy to win but still hurt. The wound was deep, time’s overrated healing powers had failed.Three decades later, Martina would watch Petra Kvitova win the Wimbledon. On spotting the Czech star’s family in the Royal box, those disturbing memories from the past came flooding.On the podcast, Martina recalls speaking to her parents on the phone, a couple of hours after the win. “It’s about being with the family, to be with those who you love … that’s what I will never forgive the communists for they destroyed so many lives,” she would say.Married to former Miss USSR, a mother of two, Martina has rebuilt her life. She has settled in her adopted country but not co-opted. “When I see something that I don’t like, I’m going to speak out because you can do that here,” she once said.Vibrant on social media, she has taken on several POTUS and shredded their policies. She has commented on Indian politics and slanged matches on social media. She raised questions when Magic Johnson said he got AIDS through sex with women. Why do gay people with AIDS not get similar sympathy? What would the world say if it was a woman in a similar situation? “They’d call her a whore and a slut, and the corporations would drop her like a lead balloon,” she predicted.Martina was once asked why the present generation of tennis players got frequently injured. She would end her detailed answer with a laugh, “Maybe, they don’t make them like they used to”. They certainly don’t, like the Little Martina with the bicep bulge who grew up to be a survivor who fights with all she has got.