AS some of you may know, I’ve hired a personal coach, Tom John, for six months leading up to the Olympics. I’ve been working with him for a little over two months now. The official list of qualifiers for the Olympics is out and I’m on it, so we’re training and looking to peak at the Olympics.
I’d been thinking about hiring a personal coach for a while now. I felt that since the World Championships last August, I hadn’t really continued on the same path and was beginning to stagnate. There were, of course, some things that were out of my control, like the injury to my foot, which started to get really bad around September/October last year. But I still felt like I needed to shake things up a bit and try something different. I had a couple of people in mind who I wanted to work with. Of course, ideally I would have either Prakash Padukone or Vimal Kumar travel with me, but since they have to take care of the academy, that wasn’t a possibility. I’d talked to Jim Laugesen, a former player from Denmark, about the possibility of training with him and he was quite keen on it. I’d also worked with Tom John over brief periods some years ago and I thought he could also help me. In the end, I went with Tom John because I needed to be based in India in this period leading up to the Olympics and he was better suited to Indian conditions, having been in India many times in the past.
We had a mixed sort of start as a team. I had an ordinary German and All England Open but was beginning to play better and better towards the end of my stay at the All England. As it turned out, I beat Shoji Sato of Japan in the first round in the Swiss Open. I did’nt start out very well and was down 14-19 in the first. I was able to really raise my level from then on and equalised at 19-19. He got a net cord at that stage and went up to 20-19 but I was feeling quite good having won a few points in a row and I went on to win the game at 22-20. I dropped the second game but recovered in time to take the third.
I felt good about my next round against Taufik as I’d beaten him the last time we played. But I got injured in the first game itself. It felt quite strange, I’d never been injured before and one moment I was playing and the next I felt and heard a loud snap in my left foot. I couldn’t put my foot down at all after that and had to concede. I had a strange plane ride back to Bangalore on a wheelchair, and crutches where there was no ramp for the wheelchair.
Since recovering from the injury, I’ve mostly been doing weight training for the upper body and a lot of cycling since I didn’t want to risk injuring the foot further. I’ve been amazed at how without running or playing Tom has managed to keep me fit through the last few weeks. I’ve just started to play again and I feel a bit stronger and fitter. It’ll take a couple more weeks before the physical work that I’ve done is translated to the court but when it does, I’ll be better than before.
So, as of now, the plan is to work more on physical conditioning for the next two weeks or so and then get on to more on court work. I’ll write another update in a few weeks’ time :)