By Lucia Santiago
Madrid, Jun 5 (efe-epa) .- The Madrid Center of High Performance paints an unusual picture. Three lonely athletes run on an empty track, small groups of taekwondists and judoists exercise avoiding physical contact and the shuttlecocks in the badminton pavilion fly at a slower than normal pace.
But world champion Carolina Marín has delved back into training with up to six-hour sessions a day, to feel like “the player she was before” in preparation for her professional return penciled in for September.
Marín is a western star in a discipline that is deeply rooted in Asia. She says she feels lucky to have been made to feel at home in countries like India and Indonesia where locals have always treated her like one of their own.
-Question: How did your first training session after lockdown go?
-Answer: Surprisingly, it was better than I expected. Since I first picked up a badminton racket eight years ago have I spent three months without it. Finally, I got behind the shuttlecock! I’m really surprised by the fact that I took pretty well to the racket again. Everything is going pretty well.
-Q: What is the best part of this first week of training?
-A: Recovering those feelings, having the desire to pick up a racket and shuttlecock again and, above all, the motivation to face this new stage. This is the first encounter. We will demand more from the exercises later. As we advance and the competition approaches, we will think more about that.
-Q: What has changed at the Center for High Performance (CAR)?
-R: First, the reality we are all witnessing at the moment. It involves being very cautious, very cautious because the virus is still here. We had never come with a mask, we have always greeted each other with two kisses and a hug, especially with friends whom you have not seen for so long. Right now it’s a greeting from afar.
-Q: How many hours a day do you spend at CAR?
-A: Right now, the morning schedule is two or three hours. In the afternoon, about two and a half hours. By the end, between five and six hours a day.
-Q: Has it been demanding to return?
-A: I don’t like to say that we have to make up for lost time, because time has already been lost. But we have to have that grip on the bird and the racket, recover sensations and those explosive movements that during confinement I have not been able to do.
Mainly, we must be careful with injuries, that’s why we are doing very basic training, like the ones you do when you start playing badminton. I have not picked up a racket for almost three months and we cannot do explosive movements or changes in rhythm at the moment. The muscles are not fully prepared for it. We are going very little by little. Once we move forward in the coming days and weeks we will add more uncertainty to these exercises.
-Q: I watched you train with three colleagues. Only one court of the six in the pavilion was being used. Is it strange to work with such a small group?
-A: Yes. The first week, only my partner Kike Peñalver and I trained with one coach at a time, either Anders Thomsen or Fernando Rivas. For a couple of days, two more colleagues joined us. We are only ever four people.
-Q: Do you think you will compete this year?
-A: We must see how the coronavirus progressed. The Badminton World Federation has started to set tournaments starting in September and our plan is designed so that we can compete again on that date. It is true that, when we get closer to that moment, we will see if we can travel to those countries, how the coronavirus has developed or if everything is already much better. We will be very cautious in that regard. In theory, I will start competing in September.
-Q: Are you looking forward to traveling again?