The novel coronavirus has brought life to a standstill across the world. The sporting world too, with tournaments cancelled, seasons suspended and athletes bound by the same rules of isolation as the rest of us. ESPN talks to Indian athletes, cooped up in homes or training camps, on their changed routines, with calendars scrambled, competitions on hold and plenty of time on hand.
How have you been holding up through this period of self-isolation?
My family and I flew in to Hyderabad on March 21 from Ahmedabad, where I had been training for the past 10 days. We were keeping a close eye on how things were developing and figured that everything would go into lockdown pretty soon. At the moment, we are here with my parents in isolation and trying to stay productive and spending some quality time with everyone.
What was your state of mind around the time you were playing your last few tournaments?
The coronavirus outbreak and awareness was in its most nascent stages in the U.S. when I last played a tournament -- the Arnold Palmer Invitational a few weeks back [March 5-8]. There was no panic and the authorities were downplaying the virus altogether. So there was complete normalcy during the event.
I had to be a little careful on my flight in to India -- I flew in to Ahmedabad on March 11. I knew that travelling was a risk and I deliberately flew through Doha as there were no cases reported then in Qatar and the airline I flew practises a high hygiene and service level. Also, flying in to Ahmedabad was definitely more convenient as it is a small airport.
Have you picked up any new hobbies while in isolation?
My only hobby, at the moment, is to keep my one-year-old daughter safe and occupied. The extended time off has also given me an opportunity to refresh my meditation and yoga practice, which I have fallen out of in recent times.
What was the last book you read or series/film you saw that you really liked?
I read Fountainhead by Ayn Rand last year and as for films I have watched too many to even keep track. A lot of online resources are going to get tapped in the coming weeks -- that's for sure. I recently finished watching The Blacklist and binged as I was traveling by myself all of January and February.
How have you altered your daily schedule to keep fit?
I have planned a combination of yoga and basic bodyweight exercises for the upcoming period. My trainer has given me some options to work with bands as well -- so there will be enough fitness to tide through these gym-less times ahead of us.
- Anirban Lahiri (@anirbangolf) March 28, 2020
Who are the other golfers you are in touch with? Is there any advantage to the current situation?
I am in touch with some of my friends like Patrick Rogers, Camillo Villegas and Jamie Lovemark back in the U.S. They are in a more critical phase of the outbreak than we are here at the moment.
Here in India, I'm in touch with Chikka [S Chikkarangappa], Shubhankar [Sharma], Udayan [Mane], Abhishek Jha and a bunch of other pros who are close friends and some also work with our common coach. No one is happy about the indefinite time away from competitive golf but we all understand that this is a time for all of us to do whatever is necessary to get through this pandemic.
If you could swap lives with another Indian athlete for a day, who would it be and why?
Right now, every athlete is in the same situation. Trying to make the most of the isolation in any way possible. I guess if you played an indoor sport with access at home like table tennis, you could still continue your training, but honestly it's a time to regroup and reset and stay safe.
What is your biggest concern now?
I think the biggest concern in the number of cases being predicted by the various outbreak experts and how it could be in the multiple millions.
We could be looking at an event that changes the history of the world and this situation could stretch out for many months before we return to any sense of normalcy. Hopefully, all citizens of the world act responsibly and help bring this situation to a close sooner rather than later.