New Delhi: While PV Sindhu has herself branded the World Badminton Championships match against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 'physically and mentally very tough', her fellow shuttler and 2014 Commonwealth Games Champion Parupalli Kashyap sees the epic encounter as a window to the fitness requirements in the sport.
In an interview with Zee Media, Kashyap explained how important it is for a badminton player to have all fitness factors up to the mark to meet the physical demands of the sport.
"I think it is a sport where you need all kind of factors combined. You need speed of a high-level sprinter, agility of a cross-fit athlete, explosiveness of a jumper, and top-level endurance."
Keeping the physical demands aside, the 30-year-old from Hyderabad asserted that one needs to be mentally tough in order to quickly recover and prepare for a grueling schedule in attempt to last a whole season.
"There are a lot of things involved. The whole body should be in shape, because every muscle is being used. It is a high-intensity sport. You have to be mentally very strong. You don’t get time to recover (during matches)," he said.
During the women's singles final at the 2017 BWF World Championships against Okuhara, the two players, more so Sindhu, were being repeatedly instructed by the chair umpire to stay on court. The three-set (21-19, 20-22, 22-20) battle forced them into short breaks to get their breath back, for which Sindhu was even given a yellow card.
"Even the little breaks (mid-game intervals) we get, the umpire keeps telling us to get back on court. Your heart rate is always 170-180 plus and then you need to recover in 5-10 seconds and play the next rally. Then to maintain that level of fitness the whole year, you need to last a whole season, and stay injury-free playing high-intensity matches for five days continuously in a tournament. Break it down to that and you realise how difficult it is," he added.
Kashyap also lauded Okuhara's fitness levels, considering she had less time to recover compared to Sindhu since the quarterfinals.
"Hats off to Okuhara for playing three matches (from quarterfinals onward) in short intervals, but you do have to consider scheduling," he said, going on to question match scheduling at the tournament.
"Sindhu had more than 30 hours of rest for her semifinal (played in evening session) while Saina and Okuhara had less than 15 hours. It is an advantage, considering the tournament, the conditions, the amount of time you are on court.
"For Okuhara to pull through Carolina and Saina with that kind of schedule and then come out to play the longest match of the tournament (against Sindhu) and win is just amazing," Kashyap reckoned.
The final, which was the second longest in the history of women's singles, lasted 110 minutes.