Indian badminton team physiotherapists Sumansh Sivalanka and Evangline Baddam will not play on the court but will have a big role to play off the court.
The Tokyo Olympics 2020 will not only be a big challenge for all four Indian shuttlers who have qualified, but also for Sumansh and Evangeline. The fact that it is the duo's first Olympics as physiotherapists will add to the pressure on them.
While Evangeline has been appointed specifically for PV Sindhu, Sumansh will take care of the remaining three male members of the contingent. Evangeline has been working as a senior sports physiotherapist at the Suchitra Badminton Academy in Hyderabad for the last few years. Evangeline’s services were sought by Rio silver medalist Sindhu in her quest to at-least match her medal-winning Olympic run last time, if not better it . Evangline accompanied Sindhu when the tall Hyderabadi shuttler clinched the title at the 2019 World Championship in Basel.
30-year-old Sumansh, who has completed his bachelor's and post graduate degrees from Manipal University, said that all four shuttlers are in perfect health. The nine-member badminton contingent is likely to depart for Tokyo on July 16.
“I just want to share that all four Indian shuttlers are injury-free and are in the best of shape. They all are absolutely fine and raring to go for the Olympics. With just a couple of weeks to go until the Olympics, they are working really hard and pushing themselves to the limit. I am keeping a close watch on all their activities on and off the court,” said Sumansh.
I have been part of the national camp since 2016 and know all the players quite well: Sumansh
The youngster started as a physio at Hyderabad-based Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy under TOPS in 2015.
“I know all of them inside out. I have been part of the national camp since 2016 so I know all the players' bodies and their requirements. Physiotherapy plays an important role in overcoming injury and to prevent injury. It also improves your fitness for a great deal. Badminton requires quick explosive movements to change direction, jump, lunge and flick the wrist, keeping your body in balance. My job is to keep them ready for the biggest tournament of their lives,” said Sumansh.
Sumansh was part of the Indian team in many international tournaments, including major events like All England Championships, World Championships, World Tour Finals and Asian Championships.
He was Kidambi Srikanth’s physio along with Kiran Challangundla when the Indian star was in dream form in 2017. Srikanth became the first Indian and only the fourth male shuttler in history to grab four Super Series titles in a calendar year four years ago.
“I have been continuously traveling with all the top Indian players for the last five-six years to various tournaments. But this will be my first Olympics as a physio. I know the task is big and I have to live up to the expectations of everyone. Physiotherapists also play a huge role in helping athletes of all ages and all levels of ability to enhance their performance. I am looking forward to the challenge and I am confident that together we will certainly produce the best results in Tokyo,” said Sumansh.
He is aware that there are a lot of expectations from the Indian players in Tokyo.
“We all are training together at the Gachibowli Stadium. Sai Praneeth is in good nick and is determined to do well. Like Sai, it is also the maiden Olympics for Chirag and Satwik. They look awesome on the court together. We all discuss fitness and how to improve it during and after the sessions. Keeping the players in perfect shape for the Olympics is my profession. Being a physio, I have to coordinate between the players and coaches,” said Sumansh.
A good physiotherapist can advise you on the correct technique and help prevent injury through training and matches. Both Sumansh and Evangline will have to understand the demands of the players so that they can make themselves ready for the medal in Tokyo.