New Delhi: With the court out of bounds and the racquet resting, some of India's top shuttlers have gone back to studies to prepare for an online assessment test conducted by their employer, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
The badminton players have been asked to complete some course work and appear the assessment test that involves topics such as cyber security, plastic waste management, product maintenance etc., in a bid to keep them busy during the coronavirus-forced nationwide lockdown.
India's top men's doubles player Chirag Shetty, who won the Thailand Open and finished runner-up at French Open last year along with partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, said the course is tough but he is enjoying the process.
"We got a mail from IOC around first week of April for this course work. So I have been busy. It has topics related to all the things that IOC does like handling of methanol and ethanol, safety measures while handling something, petcoke," Chirag, a 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, told PTI.
"Basically you read the course first then give an assessment test immediately. You have to score at least 80 percent, which is pretty tough. So you end up attempting one course multiple times to pass.
"So far, I have done 10 and I have to do 20. Science background would certainly help as it is not easy. But it is good. We train two sessions now and in between have a lot of free time, so it keeps us occupied," said the 22-year-old, who is a Grade A officer in IOC.
There are hundreds of topics from which players can choose from after logging in through a particular website provided by the IOC.
Indian women's doubles player N Sikki Reddy, who won the 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medal with Ashwini Ponnappa, is also spending some time every day to complete the course.
"It is really nice and interesting. It started on April 4th. So we have been kept busy by that too," she said.
"There are around 40-50 topics, some are 15 minutes and some are 45 minutes. There are audios and videos. So immediately after you go through it, you have to appear an online exam and pass mark is 80."
From sharpening his smashes and net dribbles, 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap is now trying to know about the different aspects of IOC, and says it has been a great learning process.
"The course material is really interesting. It gives us an idea about different important aspects of the company, how the Indian Oil petrol pumps work, about fuels and safety handling issues.
"It is a good initiative because as full-time athletes we don't get time to do these courses."
Like the rest of the world, Indian shuttlers are also spending all their time at home with the government extending the lockdown till May 3.
The BWF has suspended all tournaments post the All England Championship till the end of July due to the coronavirus outbreak.