The year 2020 led into sports being stalled owing to the coronavirus pandemic. In the period of lockdown, Indian athletes trained indoors, honed their other skills and decided to indulge in some new activities like cooking, painting, singing and among others. Asian Gold medallist squash player Saurav Ghosal. has indulged himself in hosting a new web series. The talk show web series called "The Finishing Line" will feature eight sporting superheroes of India who have time and again put their best foot forward to win laurels for the country.
Baseline Ventures has conceptualised and produced the eight-part web series. The first episode was hosted on August 28, where Olympic gold-medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra joined as the guest. Apart from Bindra, the show will feature, Viswanathan Anand, Karthik, Pankaj Advani, Smriti Mandhana, Leander Paes, Parul Parmar and Varun Singh Bhati.
Speaking to The Bridge exclusively, Ghosal said, "I always wanted to have a talk show and speak to the best athletes of the country has to offer. Everyone has a story and there are a lot of things to learn from each of them. Through this web series, we are going to focus on the big moments of their career and try to understand their mindset and how they crossed the finish line at that point of time. We are trying to extract and extrapolate from the athletes what they did to reach their level best. I am highly inspired by their journeys."
The 34-year-old was hoping to make it to the PSA World Tour Finals in Cairo, Egypt in the third week of June when he returned to his home in Kolkata from London in March. He took part in the Canary Wharf Classic where he lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Mohamed El Shorbagy.
With the new PSA calendar out now after things were thrown out of gear due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 13th-ranked Ghosal is hopeful of playing in five Platinum events starting with the Egyptian Open in October. The squash calendar will start with the Silver category Manchester Open from September 16-22. But Ghosal is unsure of taking part in it due to the prevailing situation.
"I am yet to decide about Manchester. However, there are five Platinum events lined up, starting with the Egyptian Open in Cairo from October 5, the calendar extends till December, with three in Egypt, one in Qatar and one in Hong Kong. Those are five Platinum events I am pretty much confirmed to play in. We are working with the dates in mind. We have to balance with the travel side of things in this pandemic situation," Ghosal said.
The coronavirus pandemic denied access to squash courts for Ghosal. Not just squash, every sport in the country has been brought to a standstill. Despite not playing for six to seven months, Ghosal wants to focus on the positives. “It was difficult, initially. But I had my goals set ad I resumed playing squash in July at courts where I trained. I have been home for six months and I never thought I would be in one place. This time can be utilised in how technology can be used better. It is a necessity. I hope this necessity brings changes that will better the sport,” Ghoshal said.
Although India has produced some of the best squash players in the world like Ghosal, Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa, a lot needs to be done to make this sport popular. Ghosal concludes, "We have to get squash more on television. We have to bring this sport more into schools to popularise the sports. Players like Joshna and I have still few years left to play. This is the best generation we have ever had. We have raised the bar. We have some great juniors who have the potential to make it to the best. Hopefully, they will be guided the right way. We have to get more players taking up this sport, which will ensure a good future of this sport."