Gearing up for her maiden Uber Cup amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India shuttler Malvika Bansod says she is not worried about the threat posed by the disease and is looking ahead to returning after a long break. The prestigious Thomas and Uber Cup Finals will be the first global badminton events to be organised since the coronavirus outbreak in March. They will be held in Aarhus, Denmark from October 3-11.
"There have been so many months without action, so I am actually really excited about the tour. I am not too bothered (about the COVID threat)," she told PTI. "It is the first time that I have been called for Uber Cup, so I am very happy. I have been able to train for last couple of months. I had sessions with junior India coach Sanjay Mishra sir after the lockdown was lifted. So I am in good shape," the Nagpur shuttler added.
The 18-year-old, who claimed back-to-back titles at Maldives International Future Series and Nepal International Series a year ago in September, says she wasn't expecting a call-up to the national team for the prestigious tournament. "I was not expecting a call but my ranking is India no 2 behind Akarshi Kashyap. So I was hopeful. It is great to represent the country," added the left-handed shuttler, who worked under coach Kiran Madore before joining Mishra.
Talking about her performance, Malvika said: "The biggest highlight of my entire career happened in 2019 when I won the junior world no 1 in Asian Junior Championship. I won in straight games and it was a big boost for me. Apart from that I also won other junior and senior domestic and international titles last year. So it was a good year for me." Malvika, then ranked 83rd in the world junior rankings, had stunned world no. 1 junior player Phittayaporn Chaiwan in the second round of the Asia Junior Championships.
India will take on China, France and Germany in Group 'D' in the Uber Cup and Malvika is looking to give her best. "I have seen the draw. I can't say if it was easy or tough but we are playing China, France and Germany and it is a good draw. I just hope to find my best form and play well for the country." Malvika was supposed to attend the preparatory camp for the Thomas and Uber Cup Final but it was cancelled this week. "We were told that the camp will start on September 7, and so accordingly, I got my COVID test done and, thankfully, it was negative. They had asked us to wait until further instruction," she said.
Besides Malvika, Aakarshi Kashyap has also been included in the women's team which has players such as Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu and London bronze winner Saina Nehwal, among others. Mishra, the chief junior national coach, said the experience of playing alongside Saina and Sindhu at such events will hold both Malvika and Aakarshi in good stead.
"Malvika has always been focussed and sincere. She has been working with me after the lockdown ended. She has worked hard on her net, she has improved. It will be a good experience and exposure for them as Saina and Sindhu are also there," the Raipur-based coach said. "They have just started their senior careers. So it will help them in longer run. In fact, Aakarshi too was under me till U-15. She had won the national championship and she later left for PPBA in Bangalore."