‘Instead of squash, thinking of groceries’: Saurav Ghosal
Top athletes talk to HT about their experience of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is Saurav Ghosal, the world No. 13 squash player who became the only Indian male to break into the top 10 of the world rankings last year.Updated: Apr 23, 2020 16:36 IST
Even if not for the current situation, I would have been home (in Kolkata) anyway. Only instead of analysing my performance in the French league, which would have taken place on the weekend of March 14, playing the Egyptian league and playing in El Gouna by the Red Sea soon after, I am thinking of groceries.
That was the first step in accepting that I will not be able to do the things I want to. Squash is an important part of my life but there are other things you need to focus on, like getting groceries. Like not worrying that shelves will be empty by the time you get there. In another time, had I been home, I would have got some desserts, maybe mutton biryani too. Being in the middle of competitions, though, would mean having small portions of both. We did bake a chocolate cake at home for grandma’s birthday recently but I wouldn’t mind some more comfort food.
The Professional Squash Association has suspended all competition until July, at least. The uncertainty makes the physical side of training difficult. We take years to get in our best shape and less than two months to lose it, so I am trying to get one session in daily.
We have a lawn at home where I am doing strength work, shuttle runs and skipping combined with some court movement drills. It lasts between an hour and 90 minutes and I am trying to enjoy it. At a time when the priority is to stay home, wash your hands and stay safe, my day is like that of a normal person. I think it was shooter Manu Bhaker who said we just have to make the best use of what we have and be ready. It is an advice appropriate for the times.
I am not killing my body in training and absorbing the pressure of competition so, maybe, that will help extend my career. But, I will be 34 in August, meaning I don’t have much time. Making the final in Pittsburgh (in January) and the quarter-finals in Canary Wharf, London (last month), showed that I was playing pretty well this year.
My wife was supposed to be in Kolkata on March 21 but couldn’t, so I am spending a lot of time reading up about the virus. It’s got to a point where cousins and uncles are reaching out to me for information! Watching my games is another way of staying occupied. I beat Simon Rosner (world No. 7) in London and lost a close three-setter to Mo (Mohamed El Shorbagy, world No. 1) and have tried to take positives from both.
I know the world will come out stronger from this. I hope then that my game will still be there and that I can find a way to get it back.
As told to Dhiman Sarkar